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

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4th of July Food Festivities

Last year right after I started this blog my second post was about the 4th of July. Last year it felt like a million degrees out, while this year is was gray and rainy. Sad, but we had a blast and all ate way too much! This year I made a dip, which really I felt more like I had made crack, I ate ½ the dip before the party, no joke.

Bacon Cheddar Dip (aka Crack)
originally found here

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Ingredients:

16 oz sour cream
1 packet ranch dressing mix
3 oz bacon bits
1 cup shredded cheese

Directions:

1. Mix together and refrigerate 24 hours.

My tip for this is get a sturdy chip! I had some Lays, while they were fine before the dip went into the fridge, they promptly broke when I tried to eat the dip once it had chilled.

This second recipe I debated about putting up, honestly I’m still not sure about it. It’s less of a recipe and more of a how to make a fun 4th of July cake. I used Betty Crocker yellow cake mix (the pudding in the mix makes a HUGE difference!) The original recipe was on the Betty Crocker website

Red, White, and Blue Cake

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Ingredients:

1 box Betty Crocker cake mix
water, vegetable and egg whites called for on the cake mix box
red and blue food coloring
1 container (12 oz) Betty Crocker whipped fluffy white frosting.

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 325 degrees, also check the box, the type of pan you use will determine the cook time. I used 4 mini loaf pans. Make the cake batter as directed on the box, Divide the batter into 3 separate bowls. One will stay the same color, the second add red food coloring, and to the third add blue food coloring, mix and add more food coloring if desired.

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2. Pour red batter into the pan first, then white batter, and lastly the blue batter.

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3. Bake as directed on the box, again cook time will depend on what kind of pan you are using. I forgot to use any kind of grease on the pan, so the first one really there was no saving it. The rest I used a rubber spatula and worked my way around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake and they came out fine. Although for some reason the blue batter sunk to the middle of the cake, honestly of you look at the first picture of the cake it kind of looks like a little whale!

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4. The last step before enjoying this wonderful treat! The original recipe calls to do this in a microwave, since I don’t have one, I just used the stove top. I divided the frosting into 3 equal parts and started with the uncolored frosting. Put it on the stove for a couple of minutes until it had somewhat melted and became smooth. Below is me mixing red dye into the softened frosting.

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Then I put the warmed frosting into a plastic bag.

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and cut off a corner and drizzled it over the cakes. I repeated the process with the other two batches of frosting adding red and blue food coloring.