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.

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

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

12 Days of Cookies! Day 9: Classic Spritz Cookies

One of the best things I’ve ever gotten on a black Friday shopping adventure was a Wilton Cookie Press. Not only because I can now say I own a gun that shoots cookies, but because it shoots the cookies I remember from my childhood, who doesn’t love to reminisce about childhood sweets! The original recipe which comes with the cookie press and is on their website, makes 7-8 dozen! Talk about being able to feed a crowd. I also like that the dough can be divided and the colors can be changed! For instance I made the normal dough color cookies and then green and red ones! When I began baking not too long ago I got some Ateco food coloring gel, it does a great job of getting a rich color.

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Classic Spritz Cookies

Ingredients:
3 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 ½ cups butter softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp almond extract
Food Coloring (optional)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. In a bowl, combine flour and baking powder. In a large separate bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg, milk, vanilla, and almond extract mix well. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beat until combined. DO NOT CHILL. Divide dough and color if desired. Fill cookie press with dough and with desired disks, press cookies onto ungreased cookie sheet.
3. Bake 10-12 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Cool 2 minutes on cookie sheet, move to cooling rack to cool completely.
**make sure to adjust the cooking time based on your oven temperature. My oven is super hot, and 10 minutes completely burns them, so I used less time.

Sorry I missed a day guys!!!

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 10: Peppermint Chocolate Chip
Day 11: Gingerbread Cookies
Day 12: Peppermint Kiss Cookies

12 Days of Cookies! Day 8: Creamsicle Cookies

Oddly enough, the first time I made these cookies was on national Creamsicle day! I know, I know there is some kind of holiday celebrated everyday of the year, but it was a pure coincidence that I made those that day, or is it? I’ll never know, but what I do know is that these are darn tasty! I wasn’t really sure how well these would turn out, honestly I never really cared for creamsicles before. I originally made them for a friend who was coming back into town, and I have this thing about tasting whatever I give out to someone. I just have a fear that if I don’t taste it and there maybe something a little off. Needless to say I was surprised when I had to stop myself from eating these! The original place I saw the recipe was at Baked Perfection

Creamsicle cookies

Ingredients:
2 ½ cups all purpose flour
¾ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
½ cup sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp orange zest
2 cups white chocolate chips

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Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. In a small bowl combine; flour, baking soda and salt, set aside
3. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and creamy. Beat in egg and vanilla until smooth. Gradually add flour mixture until combined. Mix in orange zest and chips.
4. Drop rounded tbsp onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 6-8 minutes, and store in an air tight container.

Related:
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 9: Classic Spritz Cookies
Day 10: Peppermint Chocolate Chip
Day 11: Gingerbread Cookies
Day 12: Peppermint Kiss Cookies

12 Days of Cookies! Day 7: Chocolate Sugar Cookies

I don’t know what I do wrong with those bag mixes but I will NEVER be making those again. Whenever I made sugar cookies from a mix they were always super flat and burnt, really just bad!! This recipe was so delicious!! I have this habit of just checking out the ingredients of the recipe and not the directions… So this recipe takes a little bit longer than I first anticipated but is well worth the extra time, and the extra time comes from having the dough be refrigerated not because it is a super tricky recipe. This recipe comes from Sprinkle Bakes She cookies are decorated so cute! I love the dog star. The original recipe uses a mixer, and since I don’t have one there are a couple of changes to the directions.

Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:
½ lb (2 stick) butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup cocoa powder
Pinch of salt

Directions:
1. In a medium bowl mix the butter and sugar until just mixed, making sure not to overmix or they will spread (this may have been the issue with my previous sugar cookies!)
2. Add the egg and vanilla extract, until combined. In a separate medium bowl whist together the flour cocoa powder and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter and egg mixture. Mix until the dough is formed and there are no streaks of butter in the dough.
3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the dough on the parchment paper, place a second sheet of parchment paper on top of the dough and using a rolling pin roll the dough into an oblong disc. Transfer all of this onto a large cookie sheet and refrigerate for 1 hour.
4. Take dough out of the fridge, and preheat oven to 350 degrees
5. Remove the top sheet and roll the dough to about ¼ to ½ inches thick, the dough should not be sticky. Using a cookie cutter cut out the desired shapes from the dough, and place onto a prepared baking sheet. Don’t stretch out the cut shaped!
6. My cookie shapes were kind of on the small side so I baked mine for 8-10 minutes, but make sure that cookies are thoroughly cooked before removing from the oven. Let cool for a few minutes and then transfer onto a cooling rack and allow to completely cool before decorating.

Icing

Ingredients:
1 stick of butter, softened
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Food coloring (optional)

Directions:
1. Make sure to thoroughly mix the butter and sugar to avoid clumps of butter in your frosting. Add food coloring at the end.

20121207-164241.jpg I know that normal Christmas colors are red and green, and yes there will be some cookies that will be red and green, but in the Big Blue Nation blue is always an appropriate color to use! I was so excited that the cookies didn’t flatten out or get burnt!

Related:
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 8: Creamsicle Cookies
Day 9: Classic Spritz Cookies
Day 10: Peppermint Chocolate Chip
Day 11: Gingerbread Cookies
Day 12: Peppermint Kiss Cookies