Bake the Halls – Sugar Cookie Swirls

These cookies are perfect for bringing to a Christmas party. This time of year reminds me of one of my first Christmas’s here in Kentucky, I was invited to a Christmas party at the house of one of the ladies (whom I’m now really good friends with) that works at the church I attend.

At the time the girls in my lifegroup (who are now in middle school!) were in the 3-5th grade area, and all the leaders were gathering at Wende’s house to hang out. This was before I had a iPhone and the internet, so I got the directions and didn’t write them down because, you know, I would be just fine. By the time I get  into her subdivision I no longer remember the name of the street she lives on nor the address, but no worries, I turned onto her street and went to the only house with an open door and the lights on. Now at this time I didn’t know Wende too well and only knew a handful of leaders, that night was the night to meet some new friends!! As I walk in the front door I greet the couple around my age inside with a Merry Christmas and they respond in kind.  They motion for me to sit on the couch, while I do, inside my head I’m wondering if I had ever seen them around church and notice that they must be great friends with Wende to be moving around her house in such a familiar manner.  I see them in the kitchen, and to be honest at this time I’m feeling a little bit awkward so of course I ask

“Can I help you guys with anything?”
“Oh we’re good, no worries”

But I was worried, what happened to Wende? And why was I the only one there? I was a little early since I wasn’t sure how long it would take to get there but I was just getting this weird vibe from the two people in the kitchen.

“Um, so where’s Wende?”
“What?”
“This isn’t Wende’s house?”
“No, we don’t know who you are, but just figured you were a friend of a friend”
“Oh my gosh! I’m at the wrong house!!! Ummmm Merry Christmas guys!”

And then I awkwardly leave a random strangers house. Thankfully they were nice and they wished me luck in finding the house and a Merry Christmas. With a burning face of embarrassment I hid in my car and call to find out directions, I wasn’t even on the right street! She lived a street over…

Now, back to the cookies this was the first time I did these and let me tell you there are a couple of things that I’ll do differently the next time I make them. When I originally saw these cookies here, they look beautiful! So of course I figured it would be a cinch to make them and like the story above didn’t read any directions in making them. They were messy but fun to make and the next time I make them I will try the recipe on the link above.

Sugar Cookie Swirls

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Ingredients:

2 packets of Betty Crocker Sugar cookie Mix
2 sticks of butter
2 eggs
Food coloring
Sprinkles

Directions:

1. Make the Betty Crocker Sugar cookie mixes separately,  using the food coloring on one of the batches. Let refrigerate for 30 minutes. (The refrigerating for 30 minutes is what I will do differently next time. It can be done without letting the dough get cold, I just think that by refrigerating it the dough will be easier to roll out.

2. Roll the dough out on a floured surface, then place one dough on top of the other and roll both of the doughs together to get the swirl pattern.

3.  This is what I think is the hardest part… Adding the sprinkles, once the doughs are rolled together the next thing to do is to add the sprinkles, and you know what? Sometimes those little stinkers don’t want to stick on to the outside of the cookie dough! Once the dough has been sufficiently sprinkled I wrapped my now sprinkle cover cookie tube in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for an hour or so.

4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bring the cookie tube out of the fridge and get a sharp knife and cut 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices into the tube. Place in the oven for 7-10 minutes until the sides are just turning brown. Please note that the cookies will expand! Quite a bit, so give them their room, once cooked let cool for 1 minute and then transfer onto a wire rack to continue to cool.

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Bakes the Halls – Gluten free style!

I’m lucky enough to be part of a community of really great Christians, and have a close knit group of girls that I get together with on a weekly basis. We intentionally push one another on our walks with Christ. Th first time I had this treat we were celebrating 2 of the girls birthdays, both of them are gluten free. I was really skeptical of this brownie, but my expectations were blown away and I was surprised to say the I wanted the recipe! I’ve had other brownies that were gluten free and what I think makes this one stand out from those is the frosting that goes on top of the brownie.

Gluten Free Skillet Brownie

Original recipe found here

This tastes amazing!

This tastes amazing!

Ingredients:

Brownie:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
1/2 cup gluten free all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup chocolate chips
2 tbsp Nutella

Frosting:
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup chocolate chips
2 tbsp Nutella
1/4 cup milk
2 cups powdered sugar
Directions:

1. Pre heat oven to 325 degrees. Cream the butter and sugar, then add the vanilla and the eggs.

2. Stir in the dry ingredients; the gluten free all purpose flour (if you aren’t gluten free by all means regular flour can be used), cocoa, salt and baking soda.

3. Once those are all mixed, fold in the chocolate chips and pour batter into a cast iron skillet. Once in the skillet, add the Nutella and swirl with a knife.

4. Bake for 35-40 minutes

5. To make the frosting, I would wait until there was just a couple of minutes left before the brownie was finished, or even start right after you take the brownie out of the oven. The frosting doesn’t take long at all to make. The original recipe used a microwave, since I don’t have one I used the stove. Melt the butter and chocolate chips over low to medium heat, stirring constantly to avoid burning.

6. Just as the chocolate chips were half way melted I added the milk (the chocolate was starting to stick to the bottom of the pan) and the Nutella.

7. Once the chocolate, milk and Nutella are melted and creamy remove the mixture from heat, and slowly start adding the powdered sugar. Once all the powdered sugar is added pour the frosting over the brownie, cut and serve! Make sure not to touch the skillet, its HOT!

More baking goodness!

Bake the Halls – Gingerbread

Bake the Halls – Sugar cookie frosting

12 Days of Cookies

Bake the Halls – Gingerbread

I made this recipe last year, and honestly I had to make it again! I had never really eaten or enjoyed gingerbread cookies. These however are soft and chewy and all over yummy, and since they were that good last year, why not make it again. If it’s not broken why fix it, right! Another thing that hadn’t changed from making these last year was the smell of molasses, if you have never encounter this before get ready. Personally I don’t care for the smell of it, if you go wonderful, but it does something magical when it’s in the oven to come out smelling and tasting nothing like the raw molasses. One thing I got this year was these rolling pin thickness gages. Fantastic I picked them up when I was wondering around in the craziness of holiday shopping, and they made it immensely easier to make cookies. I no longer had to worry if all the cookies would be different widths or if some would burn while others wouldn’t be cooked at all. If you do a lot of baking and haven’t picked these up, I would recommend picking some up.

Ingredients:
4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 ½ tsp cloves
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground nutmeg
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup molasses
1 large egg

Directions:

1. Whisk flour, salt, baking soda and spices. in a separate bowl cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Mix in the molasses and egg until combined. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough out onto a floured surface, this is super important otherwise the cookies will stick and be all sorts of crazy when you try and put them on the cookie sheet. I used the thickest of the rolling pin rings, I believe it was 3/8 of an inch.

3. This year I made gingerbread men, stars and Christmas trees. Since these were pretty thick cookies and they puff up while in the oven I made sure to really give them their space on the cookie sheets. I baked them for 6-7 minutes.

Gingerbread!!

Gingerbread!!

 

Bake the Halls 2013

A little late on my Thanksgiving update but needless to say it was a ton of fun seeing my family for an extended weekend. Plus I got to meet the daughter of one of my best friends!! It was epic! One of the things that I actually tend to enjoy a lot is the drive, I know who likes a 6 hour drive? Well I do, not really the drive, but the forced time to reflect. I find that sometimes I get so caught up in life that I am just going, going, going, and without anytime to reflect back on it it’s hard to really enjoy my life. Let alone have the time to be thankful for all of the blessings in my life, for example as I write this tomorrow will be my last final for my first semester back at school in a long time. Woohoo!!

But on to the baking! Another blessing is my entire family bakes together and it is one of my fondest memories from childhood. I can still see the counter tops full of cookies, some cooling and some already packaged up and ready to be given out (with the ominous “DO NOT EAT” signs taped on them). It’s something I do to this day actually, ask anyone I am friends, volunteer, or work with, I love to bake and then give out all of the goodies! Last year I did a series call ’12 days of cookies’ and I’ll make a link available near the end of this post.

Thanksgiving was the kick off for baking, annnd I got my sister to post for some pictures for the blog! She says she doesn’t want to be on the blog, but deep down I think we all know she wants too ;). For the cookies, we used the dough from Betty Crocker sugar cookies, and made homemade frosting!

Frosting

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1-3 tbsp milk

Directions:

1. Make sure the butter is softened, and not melted. Add the vanilla and slowly add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time.

2. After the sugar is all added to make it easier to put into pipping bags and decorate the cookies add some milk. (Trust me, I tried to not add the milk thinking it would be fine, wrong, it didn’t work!)

3. Decorate the cookies and eat!!

*We split the frosting and dyed it different colors, as well as had some chocolate frosting that was left over from the chocolate cake we made for breakfast

Click here to go to the page that has a list (with links) to the “12 Days of Cookies” recipes.

Enjoy the pictures:

The set up

The set up

Val's apparence! And the cutting of the cookies
Val’s apparence! And the cutting of the cookies

Chocolate flavored tree trunks!

Chocolate flavored tree trunks!

I decorated the stockings and the snowflakes! Val did the trees and the snowmen

I decorated the stockings and the snowflakes! Val did the trees and the snowmen

Strawberry Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’ve kind of been on a cookie kick lately, especially if the cookies come from a cake mix! The last cookie that I made was the strawberry lemonade cookies. It was a pleasant surprise when I was looking at one of my favorite blogs, Sally’s Baking Addiction, and she had a recipe for strawberry chocolate chip cookies! Exactly what the girls’ night that I was going to needed, it was like chocolate covered strawberry, who doesn’t love those? Not only are these delicious summer cookies, but they could also be used for a cute Valentine’s day gift. When I made the other cake batter cookies I noticed the dough was really sticky, and for me personally I don’t care much for that so I added a little flour to this recipe. Needless to say it was a huge hit, and super quick to make. By the time the oven was done preheating the cookies were mixed and ready to go straight into the warm oven, so it might be a great idea to have some chocolate chips and strawberry cake mix always on hand for any last minute get togethers.

Strawberry Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Ingredients:
1 box of strawberry cake mix
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 ¼ cup chocolate chips

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
2. In the first bowl mix together all the dry ingredients; cake mix, flour, and baking powder and set aside. In a separate bowl, all the remaining ingredients minus the chocolate chips, whisk together the wet and dry ingredients. Make sure to break up any clumps that might happen, I notice this tends to happen with prepackaged mixes.
3. After the ingredients are well mixed, fold in the chocolate chips. I sometimes prefer smaller cookies, so about 1 to 1 ½ tbsps. worth of dough is rolled into balls and dropped onto a cookie sheet.
4. If you make cookies that are smaller than the original recipe calls for bake for 6-8 minutes. Or 8-10 minutes for larger cookies.

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Some other easy cookie recipes to try
Flourless peanut butter cookies (gluten free!)
Strawberry Lemonade cookies
Lemon Sugar cookies

Strawberry Lemonade Cookies

I feel as if strawberry lemonade is one of the staples of summer life. Not gonna lie here guys, I still love Kool-Aid Strawberry Lemonade, it’s just so good! When I saw a recipe for strawberry lemonade cookies, how could I resist? If you are wondering where I found this recipe, it was Pinterest, and then was directed to this delightful site. Let me just tell you, I made these for this past Saturday to give to my friend Kate who is moving. I posted some pictures on Twitter, and needless to say people were asking for them so I’ll be making them again for this weekends’ game night!

Strawberry Lemonade Cookies

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Ingredients:
1 package of lemon cake mix
1 package of strawberry cake mix
4 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil, per each batter
2 tsp pure lemon extract
2/3 cup confectioners’’ sugar

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
2. Pour lemon cake mix in a large bowl and the strawberry cake mix into another bowl. Stir in 2 eggs, 1/3 cup vegetable oil and 1 tsp lemon extract into each of the separate flavored cake batters and mix until well blended.
3. Take 2 rounded teaspoons of lemon batter and roll into a ball. Do the same with the strawberry batter. Combine the lemon and strawberry dough’s to make one large ball.
4. Drop the dough into a bowl of confectioners’ sugar. Roll them around until they are lightly covered. Once sugared, put them on an ungreased cookie sheet.
5. Bake for 10 minutes (honestly I only baked mine for 6 minutes…) in the preheated oven, until bottoms are light brown and the insides are chewy. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before serving. These are also great the next day too.

Do you have a favorite summertime cookie, you’d love to share? Post a link in the comments section if you do. Also I’m looking for some yummy Christmas cookie recipes, I know I know, it’s still July! Well I’m going to try and do the 12 days of cookies again this year, and I might as well plan what cookies I want to make now so I don’t get overwhelmed with the holidays and completely forget!

Love lemons? I sure do, here’s some other recipes with lemon:
Lemon Sugar Cookies
Zucchini in Parchment
Hummus

Deep Dark Chocolate Cookies

Desserts for a wedding!

A friend was getting married and a couple of us were making the desserts. The goal was to have many different types of bite size treats for the guests to have after a tasty BBQ dinner. The treats I was tasked with were these amazing chocolate cookies, originally found here.

Now I had seen these cookies around a couple of times at different get togethers I had been at, the girl that normally makes these was coming in from out of the country so I got to bake them. She emailed me the recipe and I was pleasantly surprised at the fact that these were gluten free! Made without either butter or flour! There was a couple of challenges were overcome with this recipe, the first is I don’t have a mixer, I know I know with all the cooking/baking I do I should have one but I don’t. The second is that I don’t have a microwave either. Don’t worry I am indeed a bit strange with that one, but really it frees up counter space and I have one I use at work for leftovers. This recipe really needs both, now I could have made a double boiler but without a mixer I was still in a bind. That is until my friend Theresa texted to see if I was interested in a baking party! You better believe I was!

20130528-105544.jpg In case you were wondering, her dessert involved strawberries!!

Deep Dark Chocolate Cookies

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Ingredients:
1 ½ cups bittersweet chocolate chips, divided
3 large egg whites, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar (will need extra to roll cookies in)
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbsp cornstarch
¼ tsp salt

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, spray 2 large baking sheets with nonstick spray. Melt 1 cup of chocolate chips in a bowl in the microwave. I did 30 second intervals, stirring after each round
2. Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites in a large bowl to soft peaks. Gradually beat in 1 cup of sugar. Continue beating until mixture resembles soft marshmallow crème.
3. Whisk 1 cup sugar, cocoa, cornstarch and salt in a medium bowl. On low speed, beat dry ingredients into meringue (don’t pronounce the e at the end). Stir in lukewarm chocolate and ½ cup of the unmelted chocolate chips. (This will make the dough really stiff)
4. Round 1 rounded tablespoon of the dough into a ball, and coat in powdered sugar.
5. Place on prepared cookie sheet, and bake for 8-10 minutes.

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First time using a mixer! Big steps here guys :)

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12 Days of Cookies! The Last Day!!!

Guys, it’s the last day of the 12 days of Cookies! I’m a bit sad, especially since today I got an awesome secret Santa gift, 4 mason jars filled with 4 different types of cookies!!! I’ll still post them, so not to worry. The sweets I’ve made this Christmas season have been filled with peppermint, and I will seal this cookie event with a kiss, a peppermint kiss to be exact! This starts off with first making some sugar cookie dough, which is the new way I’ll be making those, I could NOT stop eating the dough! . On to the recipe before I get myself in trouble.

Peppermint Kiss Cookie
I first saw the recipe found here

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Ingredients:
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
1 ¼ cups butter, softened
1 tsp peppermint extract (optional, I didn’t use this and they were pretty spectacular)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ cup finely chopped candy cane Kisses
About 30 unwrapped Hershey Candy Cane Kisses

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Mix together flour, baking soda and salt.
3. In a separate mixing bowl combine the powdered sugar, butter, extracts and egg, mix until creamy. Add the flour mixture and mix until blended (it may be a bit crumbly) stir in the chopped kisses.
4. Shape the dough into ¾ inch balls and bake for 10-12 minutes
5. Either press the kiss immediately into the cookie from the oven, which will create a ‘puddle’ or allow to cool for several minutes and add the kiss.

**You guys may already know this, but apparently I didn’t. If the cookies are on a cooling rack it is NOT necessary to smoosh the kiss into the cookie. Several of mine did make it before I realized that it was the user (me) that the creating the giant hole in the cookie and not the cookie itself. You can simply just place the Kiss on top of the cookie while it is still warm and the chocolate will melt and bond with the cookie.**

Related Posts:
Day 1: Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies
Day 2: Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip
Day 3: Lemon Sugar Cookies
Day 4: Birthday Cookies
Day 5: Candy Cane Cookies
Day 6: Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies
Day 7: Chocolate Sugar Cookies
Day 8: Creamsicle Cookies
Day 9: Classic Spritz Cookies
Day 10: Peppermint Chocolate Chip
Day 11: Gingerbread Cookies

12 Days of Cookies! Day 11: Gingerbread Cookies

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Sorry it’s been a little while since I posted on the 12 days of cookies! This past weekend I had a couple of Christmas parties I was able to attend and finished up the last two cookies. These turned out wonderfully. I know that I say that a lot but I had never made gingerbread cookies before and was really concerned about making these. Actually guys it’s confession time, I thought I was going to have to throw all of these away honestly. The concern I had was after I added the molasses, I’ve never used molasses before and as soon as I opened up the container of it, I knew that I had never before smelled molasses before either. I’ll tell you what, I don’t like the smell of it one bit! Some people may like it, but it’s not my cup of tea, so my concern was that it was going to taste how it smelled. Well, there is something magical that happened when it was mixed with all the other ingredients and went into the oven to bake. It transformed into some of the most amazingly awesome cookies, that were so soft and chewy, a major plus when it comes to cookies. I loved them, but like I said before I have never had gingerbread cookies before, so I was unsure of how these compared to other gingerbread cookies. Not to worry ladies and gentlemen, I had these tested by several gingerbread cookie eating veterans, and ended up sending links to the original recipe to two different people! That speaks for itself!

Gingerbread Cookies
by: Annie’s Eats

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Ingredients:
4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda (original recipe calls for 1 ½ baking powder and ½ baking soda)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 ½ tsp cloves
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground nutmeg
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup molasses
1 large egg

Directions:
1. Whisk flour, salt, baking soda and spices. in a separate bowl cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Mix in the molasses and egg until combined. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, line baking sheet with parchment paper (I didn’t). Roll dough out onto a floured surface, this is super important otherwise the cookies will stick and become disfigured when you try and move them, to about ¼ inch thickness.

20121217-140017.jpg Cut desired shapes and place on a prepared baking sheet about 2 inches apart. I baked mine for about 7-9 minutes, the baking time will depend on the size of the cookie. After they have cooled you may decorate them if desired, I didn’t and they were still a huge hit.

Related Posts:
Day 1: Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies
Day 2: Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip
Day 3: Lemon Sugar Cookies
Day 4: Birthday Cookies
Day 5: Candy Cane Cookies
Day 6: Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies
Day 7: Chocolate Sugar Cookies
Day 8: Creamsicle Cookies
Day 9: Classic Spritz Cookies
Day 10: Peppermint Chocolate Chip
Day 12: Peppermint Kiss Cookies

12 Days of Cookies! Day 10 Peppermint Chocolate Chip

I used the original Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe with just a couple of changes for the holidays. Nestle came out with some really festive morsels, they were the regular chocolate color but there were also red and green ones too!! This really got me thinking about Christmas and how just a little change thing can make something from everyday to holiday! When I think of Christmas one of the things that comes to my mind is candy canes. So below is mostly the Nestle recipe with just two small changes.

Peppermint Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Ingredients:
2 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
2 cups (12 oz.) chocolate chips
5 candy canes, crushed

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. In a medium bowl cream together the butter and sugars. Add in the vanilla extract and the eggs and mix until well blended. In a separate bowl mix together the salt, baking soda and flour, then slowly add this mixture to the butter mixture, mix until blended.
3. Crush 5 candy canes, I broke mine into pieces and then used the blender to completely crush them into a powder. Fold in the chocolate chips and the candy cane.

20121211-205819.jpg I loved the peppermint dust!!
4. Bake for 6-10 minutes, let cool for 2 minutes on cookie sheet and then move to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Related Posts:
Day 1: Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies
Day 2: Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip
Day 3: Lemon Sugar Cookies
Day 4: Birthday Cookies
Day 5: Candy Cane Cookies
Day 6: Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies
Day 7: Chocolate Sugar Cookies
Day 8: Creamsicle Cookies
Day 9: Classic Spritz Cookies
Day 11: Gingerbread Cookies
Day 12: Peppermint Kiss Cookies