Monday, December 31, 2012

2013 - The Plan

Happy New Year!

The beginning of a new year is a great time for another fresh start... yup, another one!  Another chance at renewal.



No resolutions for me just a plan... 

  • continue to pray for this world and for those I love
  • continue to be thankful for everyting I have
  • continue to take my health seriously and lose a few more pounds
  • continue to fellowship at church and outside of church
  • continue to offer encouragement to those who are in need
  • continue to reach out to those who continue to push me away
  • continue to give 100% at work
  • hopefully learn how to drive and get my liscence... I'm chicken so bear with me!
  • continue to read more and get lost in a book!
  • continue to maintain my social media networks because there are a lot of great people out there!
  • upgrade my cellular to text my friends more because most of us are unreachable by phone so texting is a great substitute though some feel otherwise
  • BE DRAMA FREE
We'll enjoy our vacation when the time arrives, we'll enjoy spending time with loved ones, we'll enjoy watching the stars at night and passionately discussing the news.

We will make the best of 2013.... 

2012: Revisited

Well, here we are at the end of 2012.  I was hoping to do a "year in review" type of blog today but believe me I can berely remember what I did this morning, let alone all year long so this will be a quick post!  Ha!

I was hoping to have a drama free 2012 but leave it to the people who are closest to you to dump their drama at your door, ring the bell, and run away! 

sigh...


So here's the year 2012 in quick review:

  • began the year looking forward to a mid spring vacation
  • suffered an allergic reaction while on vacation but enjoyed myself nonetheless
  • shovelled some drama BS off my doorstep because I chose to be drama free
  • enjoyed fellowship at church
  • bar-b-q
  • read more books
  • listened to more ebooks
  • watched less television programs other than news
  • read more news
  • read more magazines
  • relaxed more
  • saved more
  • laughed a whole lot more
  • cried a whole lot less
  • took my health more seriously and lost 20 pounds!
  • shovelled even more drama BS off my doorstep, she really should just give up trying
  • had lots of laughs on facebook even though some probably weren't ment to be jokes HA!
  • reconnected with highschool friends on facebook - that made me really happy!
  • won a contest
  • joined instagram
  • joined tumblr
  • offered encouragement to friends in need
  • prayed more
  • gave thanks more
  • tried not to complain so much over things I have no control over
  • realized life is short so if someone wants to play the fool, I let them play all by themself.
  • the world ended
  • got buried in 46 centimeters of snow a week after the world ended.

The new year will bring new challenges.  I won't call them resolutions but challenges. 

And there you have it!


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Family Cookie Tins

 
This is a photo of my kitchen table covered in cookie containers... can't really call them cookie tins because only a few ofthem are tins and the rest are greedy size tupperware. 
 
I took this photo on December 17th so they weren't quite full since I still had a few more recipes to bake and add to them. 
 
The recipients of these containers were:
  1. My eldest sister Shirl shared a plastic container with her son
  2. My older sister Sandra shared a plastic container with her spouse
  3. My brother Ken shared a plastic conatiner with his wife and son :-)
  4. My mom got a large round tin for herself
  5. My dad got a large square tin for himself
  6. My best friend got a medium size tin to share with her three kids
  7. My adopted family at work shared a plastic container with her four kids (I hope she shared it!!)
  8. My coworker Amel got a small tin to share with her kids but I doubt she shared them!
  9. My brother-in-law's three kids shared one large plastic container
  10. My sister-in-law's three kids shared one large plastic container
  11. My other sister-in-law's three kids shared one large plastic container
  12. My other sister-in-law's two kids shared one large plastic container
  13. My mother-in-law got a large square tin for herself
  14. My nephew in Ontario was sent a medium size tin
  15. My stepdaughter has a large plastic tin to share with her cousins
two extra containers were left, one was shared between all the containers and the second one was given to my niece & nephews to share before Christmas because they gave me puppy eyes that I couldn't resist. 
 
I love baking for "my kids"
 
I've still got quite a bit of ingredients left over so I will be baking more for the first week of January.  While the adults will be complaining that they need to lose weight, the kids will be scarfing down more cookies!  I just can't keep the extra ingredients in the house to spoil, and there are still a few new recipes I really wanted to try out so I may as well bake them and get it over with. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Cookie #14 Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cookie # 14 Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

This cookie is pretty simple, and like with most recipes I like, I just vary it up a bit.  That's what I really like about some of the recipes I've discovered, the ability to substitute one thing for another...

First I start with the Nestle Toll House Cookie recipe. Click that link and you will find the recipe.

Now, usually when I make the simple chocolate chip cookies with this recipe I adjust it by adding some cinnamon and cloves to the batter to flavor it up a bit but not for the Mint Chocolate Chip cookies.  I follow the Nestle recipe all the way except that I add mint extract instead of vanilla and when it asks for chocolate chips & nuts, simply replace both item quantities with Andes mint chips (or other broken up mint chocolates like After Eight or Junior Mints.)

You may want to be creative and add some green food colouring before the addition of the chocolate but I've never did that to the batter prior to adding the chocolate it does provide an added festive touch, I just find it extra work to do... sad but true!

These cookies are pretty minty and chocolatey..  Yum!

Cookie #13 Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cookie # 13 Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is the usual recipe I always use for Chocolate Chip cookies... it's from the Nestlé Toll House cookie recipe but with a few minor adjustments:

  • added a teaspoon of cinnamon
  • added half a teaspoon of cloves,
  • removed the cup of nuts and replace with additional cup of chocolate chips.

I'm not a big fan of nuts in my chocolate chip cookies, and I also bake them for kids with nut allergies so I just don't bother with the nuts in pretty much most of the cookie recipes I make.

Personally I find the addition of the cinnamon and cloves gives the cookie a spicy flavor but only slightly otherwise it's kind of a bland cookie if you aren't using milk chocolate chips.  Most of the time I use semi sweet chips and without the recipe adjustment the cookie tastes like something's missing.

The orginal recipe for Nestlé Toll House cookies can be found by clicking here.



Thursday, December 20, 2012

Cookie #12 Spice Snaps

Cookie # 12 Spice Snaps

I'm really not sure what to call them but "Spice Snaps" works well so that's what we'll call them.

Once again we started this recipe with a Duncan Hines cake mix... the Spice cake mix to be exact.   Following the recipe for the Red Velvet cookies found HERE at the Duncan Hines website.... just replace the Red Velvet cake mix with the Spice cake mix and add a half a teaspoon of cloves to give them a little kick.

I baked them a minute or two longer than the recipe called for so they'd become crispy.  I liked these!!



Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Cookie #11 Red Velvet Cookies

Cookie # 11 Red Velvet Cookies

Not to be confused with the Red Velvet Thumbprint cookies I made earlier, that tasted alright but was close to a nightmare to mix the red food colouring in.  These are just Red Velvet cookies plain and simple and fast to make too! Ha!

Once again I shall redirect to the recipe which can be found on the Duncan Hines web site. Click the link and it will direct you straight to the recipe I used. If while there, you can scroll down and read the comments there is another recipe for a different red velvet cookies but I didn't use that one.

These were very easy to make, naturally because it all begins with a box of cake mix! Dumping everything in one bowl and mixing it was not only a breeze but an added bonus!!

They baked up pretty quick and tasted like nothing... that's right, they had no taste to them at all and I didn't have a cold, nor did I eat anything prior to tasting this cookie.  I found it just didn't have any taste to it at all.  My niece test tasted it for me and she agreed, but for some reason my nephew said they were his favorite... hmm... go figure! 


If I make these again I'd add white chocolate chips in these so they wouldn't look so plain and so they'd have a bit of a chocolate taste to them.  Which leaves me to wonder .... if the cookies are tasteless, what does the cake mix made as a cake taste like?  ...

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cookie #10 Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Cookie # 10 Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I love this oatmeal raisin cookie recipe from Grandma's Kitchen. Click the link for the recipe on Grandma's website.

The recipe is quite simple to follow, it also provides the recipe for the glaze that drizzles on top of the cookies but I never bother with the glaze though it does make the cookie look cute.  I've never adjusted this recipe ever (except maybe the cooking time when we got a new stove).  It's most likely that you already have all the ingredients to this recipe in your fridge and pantry so why not whip up a batch tonight? 

This cookie finds its way into the Christmas cookie tins for distribution to family members every December.  And I must confess, it's also a cookie I make at least twice throughout the year because it's just so darn good!  You just have to make sure not to over bake them or they'll be tough on the teeth.  I usually bake them for 2 or 3 minutes less then just let them sit that long on the counter on the hot cookie sheet and let the sugar do the rest and voila, a nice soft chewy oatmeal raisin cookie.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Cookie #9 Cherry Chip Confetti Cookie

Cookie # 9 was the Cherry Chip Confetti Cookie. 

This was also a very easy recipe to make and it came out with so much flavor I had to taste another, and another just to be sure my tastebuds weren't playing games with me.

Seriously!!

I used the same recipe I did for the Confetti Cookies which can be found by at Sally's Baking Addiction but I used a Betty Crocker Cherry Chip cake mix as my base mix.  The rest of the recipe I followed as listed on Sally's Baking Addiction.

Once again the recipe was easy, fast, and so darn full of flavor!  The cherry flavor burst in my mouth like wow!  And since we now have a new love of sprinkles.....  

Cherry Chip Confetti Cookies anyone??

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Cookie #8 Cranberry Shortbread

Cookie #8 is also one I make on a yearly basis.... and with the same recipe!  Hey, if it ain't broke, why fix it eh?!

A few years back I stumbled on a recipe for Shortbread Cookies on the Robin Hood Flour web page.  I gave it a try and the kids loved it!  So it has made it's way into my Cookie Book (which is a binder full of my favorite cookie recipes whereas Mitt Romney has a binder full of women)

First of all this recipe only requires four ingredients.... all of which can be found at the Robin Hood flour website. Click the link for the recipe and directions. 

Follow the directions of the shortbread cookie recipe and then just add chopped dried cranberries to the batter. 

Easy peasy!! 

I usually add about two cups.  I don't bother with rolling out the dough on a floured surface because I did that once and not only did the dough still stick to the counter top, but it stuck to my cheap rolling pin too! 

Can you picture how angry I was after that? Smiley 

Let's just say that adding more flour to that already floured surface gave me a major migraine, how about that.

Anyway, I separate the dough into two batches and wrap them in plastic wrap, place in the fridge for about 30 minutes to an hour to make the dough a bit more firm for rolling and shape cutting.... then I cut a heavy duty plastic freezer bag in two (separating the front piece from the back piece completely) and use it to roll the dough between!  Some people roll the dough between two pieces of wax paper, well this has the same effect.  No flour mess on the counter, no sticky dough mucking up the cheap rolling pin.  And for those of us who have a marble rolling pin; no sticky mess on that there either!

Now, once the dough is rolled out, take the cookie cutter and cut the cookies.  Bake according to the recipe - again, time depends on the size of the cookie so keep an eye on them otherwise you will need to eat the over cooked ones so that nobody knows it ever happened. 





Saturday, December 15, 2012

Cookie #7 Holiday M&M Cookies

Cookie # 7 Holiday M&M Cookies. 

For this recipe I used the Nestlé Tollhouse Cookie recipe with a few minor adjustments: 



  • added a teaspoon of cinnamon
  • added half a teaspoon of cloves,
  • removed the cup of nuts
  • substituted the 2 cups of chocolate chips for 2 cups of holiday plain M&Ms.
That's a pretty easy recipe to follow and quick too. 



These cookies always taste great.  You may want to leave the nuts in the recipe but I'm baking for kids that have a nut allergy so it's seriously out of the recipe for me!! 

I make these every year that's how great they are!  The kids love them because they have candy inside.  I have one more bag of M&Ms so I'll be making another batch of these later on.  Heaven's forbid I keep M&Ms in the house, greedy me may eat the whole bag!
 


Friday, December 14, 2012

Cookie #6 Confetti Cookie

Cookie #6 was the Confetti Cookie.  I found this recipe while pinning on Pinterest and just had to add it to my list of cookies to bake this year!

This recipe was alright, not super great but not bad either.  The cookies were very vanilla-eeee.   I was left wondering why the recipe called for vanilla flavoring when we were using a vanilla cake mix to start with.Smiley    But since I'm no great baker... I followed the directions.

The recipe was for Holiday Confetti Cake Batter Cookies and you can find the recipe over at Sally's Baking Addiction.   Click the link for the recipe, and while you're at it, surf her blog for more recipes. 

The cookies were soft and somewhat chewy.  Very vanilla-eee.  And they looked cute with all the sprinkles considering I only had half a cup of sprinkles.  After seeing the finished baked cookie and tasting it, I'm rather relieved I'd only had half a cup of sprinkles!!! 

I enjoyed these cookies and will definitely make them again but in the future I'll start by using a confetti cake mix and leave out the vanilla flavoring.



Thursday, December 13, 2012

Cookie #5 Grinch Cookies ?

Cookie # 5... I'll just call them Grinch Cookies... because mixing them made me grumpy... ha!

In keeping with the Christmas colours like in that previous post on the Red Velvet Thumbprint cookies, I swapped out the red food colouring for green!


Pretty genius if you ask me! Ha! 

 


The recipe for this cookie can be found BY CLICKING HERE but just substitute the red food colouring for green, and be sure to have extra green because you'll need it!

As I mentioned in the previous post about the Red Velvet Thumbprint cookie, the recipe is quite easy but mixing in the cocoa evenly throughout the dough took a little doing.  Then adding the green food colouring to the now funky brown cookie dough was definitely an experience.   An experience you may not want to subject yourself to if you are already stressed from holiday preparations.   I used extra green food colouring and the cookies came out nice and green-ish.  Poured the melted white chocolate into the dents and sprinkled green sugar on the melted chocolate before refrigerating.

The cookie, a buttery flavor, nice and tasty but again, nothing worth bragging about and I have no intention of making these for Easter with purple, yellow and pink food colouring as pretty and festive as they may seem because mixing that food colour in is just too much work!
 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cookie #4 Red Velvet Thumbprints

Cookie # 4 was something new to me.  I'd only made a type of thumbprint cookie once, but it was nothing like this.

While surfing the internet for a "magical Christmas cookie", I stumbled on the Red Velvet Thumbprint by Betty Crocker.  For recipe, please click the link.  I found the recipe to be very easy to follow.  I had all the ingredients already in the pantry - including the red food colouring from when I made the red velvet cake a while back!   So off I went to make the cute little cookies!!


 





As I mentioned, the recipe was quite easy but I found it took a lot of elbow grease to mix the cocoa into the cookie dough evenly. phew!  Perhaps if Santa would bring me a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer in any shade of green it would have been easier.  The addition of the red food colour after mixing in the cocoa was a trip. I had to use more red than called for to get the cookie red (because the cocoa made it a funky shade of brown - to put it nicely)

I baked the cookies and poured the melted white chocolate into the thumb dents and then to add a colourful holiday touch, sprinkled red sugar on the white chocolate before cooling.  I even rolled some of the red cookies in coloured sprinkles before baking, just because I had sprinkles!!  Hee! hee!!

I found the cookies to be buttery - like a butter cookie with a hint of chocolate taste. Pretty good and tasty, but nothing worth bragging about but definitely a cookie I'd make again.



Monday, December 3, 2012

Cookie #3: Smores Cups?

Christmas baking cookie #3... I'm not sure what to call these... Smores Cups?  Ok sure, we'll call 'em Smores Cups.

These were baked in a mini muffin tin.  I fumbled a bit on the first batch because I sprayed the muffin tin with cooking spray so they won't stick but then realized I had a non-stick tin! 

DUH!!!

For this recipe I used pre made Pillsbury Chocolate Chip cookie dough so there really isn't any recipe to list.

Basically I rolled the dough into small balls and put one in each cup of the mini muffin tin.  With my finger, I pressed a small indent into the ball then put the tin in the oven and baked it for about 10-12 minutes on 350*F.  (don't quote me on that because I think I may have taken them out sooner because they weren't quite ready.)  Once I removed them from the oven - when they were ready - I put three mini marshmallows inside each indented cookie cup and put them back in the oven for 2 minutes to puff up the mallows.  Once baked and removed from the oven I let them sit in the tin to cool off because the one I tried to free from the tin broke apart and had to be eaten quickly! 

While they were cooling, I put some chocolate chips and butterscotch chips in a zip lock sandwich bag and put the bag in a cup of hot water to melt the chips.  I could have put them in the microwave but they'd have been too melty (is that a word?) I wanted the chocolate to be melted but thick not too thin.  I poked a hole in the corner of the bag and drizzled them over the now cooled and sitting on a wire rack cookies.  Then finally I transferred the cookies onto a plate and popped them in the fridge to solidify the chocolate before putting them in a cookie tin in the fridge.

They taste pretty good too.  Kind of sweet but kids like sweets so that's a good thing.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Cookie #2: Chocolate Chip Oreo Cookies

Day two of Christmas cookie baking.  Actually, I should just say Cookie Number Two because I won't be baking every day. These were baked on Thursday November 29th by the way.  Like I said, I'm just slow to the blogging of it.

Ok, so cookie number two was the Chocolate Chip Oreo cookie.  I got the recipe from Lovin' From The Oven<-Click the link, check out the recipe there so no need to post it here and not because I'm lazy or exhausted from baking or stuffed up from sampling said cookies I baked, but because lets give credit where credit is due, besides, she's got some great recipes over there you may just want to follow her blog too eh!  I put the link to the cookie recipe just to make it easier but still, check out the other recipes she's got going on over there.  Trust me you won't regret the click, she's baking every single day!

Anyway, moving it along... 

I doubled up the recipe because I needed a big batch as I'm baking to fill more cookie tins that I care to count. 

The cookies came out awesome. 

NO...

They were better than awesome!! 

They were super-amazing-yummy-mmm-mmm-good!!!!!

The directions were very easy to follow and not rocket science like some of Martha Stewart's recipes (no offence Martha, I still love you!).

And apparently I'm no photographer either, but this is my shot of the cookies just before I ate them.

FYI:  I did extra time walking to burn off the extra calories.







Saturday, December 1, 2012

Cookie #1: Molasses Cookies

 I've finally begun baking the Christmas cookies for my kids.  Now when I say "my kids", I'm referring to nieces, nephews and my friends' kids.  As you well know, kids like cookies as much as Santa does, if not more!  I suspect more!!

Cookie #1:  Molasses Cookies.

Molasses Cookies were the cookie of the day.  The day being Wednesday November 29th, I'm just late posting this.


I found the recipe on the side of the container of Grandma's Molasses.  It sounded easy enough and called for shortening and not soft butter so I was able to throw them together quickly since I didn't need to bring any cold butter to room temperature.  The dough needed to be refrigerated for at least two hours because it's quite sticky but once baked the cookies were quite tasty!  And the good thing is I only sampled ONE cookie.  I know, I can't believe it either especially knowing how greedy I am when it comes to sweets but I'm watching what I eat so as to drop another 10 pounds before Christmas so wish me luck!

Here's the recipe for the Molasses Cookies I made with a slight variation from the original.

Ingredients: 


  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg (orignal recipe didn't ask for nutmeg)
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup brown sugar (orignal recipe asked for white/granulated sugar)
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup dark molasses
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

Directions: 
  • Heat oven to 360*F
  • Mix all dry ingredients in small bowl and set aside
  • In a large bowl mix shortening with sugar until fluffy, add egg and mix well, then add molasses and mix well.
  • Combine dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix well,
  • Cover or wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2hrs
  • Roll cookie dough into balls about the size of a walnut then roll in white sugar to coat.
  • Place on greased or non stick cookie sheet, flatten cookie with bottom of glass
  • Bake 5-7 minutes, remove and let cool 2 minutes then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
Makes about 4dz