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Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

Merry Christmas everyone!!  I hope everyone has had a very blessed day so far filled with love, laughter, family, and delicious food.  Our Christmas day has been wonderful so far.  It has actually been the calmest of all the days since arriving here in Charleston.  We are actually towards the end of our visit and it has been a great one.  I have to say, it’s been very busy since arriving!  We’ve been non-stop visiting friends and family and entertaining the girls.  We were lucky enough to take the girls to the Charleston aquarium and children’s museum.  The girls had a blast seeing all the fish, penguins, and turtles at the aquarium.  If you are ever in Charleston they are both great stops for kids!! 

Here is a picture of the girls running after their dad as we were leaving the aquarium.  What fun!

Even though our trip has been busy, I was still able to get into the kitchen and make a few things.  I have to say walking into my mother-in-laws kitchen was quite interesting.  I’m very spoiled at home because I have all my tools close by and I know where everything is.  For Christmas Eve morning I made these quick and delicious cinnamon rolls.  I thought I would share with everyone because they don’t require yeast and the waiting for the dough to rise.  These are great for breakfast any time but even special during the holidays.

Again everyone….Merry Christmas!  And thank you for all your support on my blog.  I look forward to 2010! 

Easy Cinnamon Rolls

One package frozen Pillsbury Frozen Biscuits (12 buttermilk)

¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, softened

¾ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed

2 tsp ground cinnamon

½ cup pecans, chopped and toasted

 

Icing:

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

3 Tbsp milk

½ tsp vanilla

For rolls:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray an 9 inch square or round pan with non-stick cooking spray.  Set aside.

Place the chopped pecans on a cookie sheet and place in oven about 5 to 8 minutes until toasted. 

Arrange frozen biscuits, with sides touching, in 3 rows of 4 biscuits on a lightly floured surface. Let stand 30 to 45 minutes or until biscuits are thawed but still cool to the touch.

Sprinkle thawed biscuits lightly with flour. Press biscuit edges together, and pat to form a 10- x 12-inch rectangle of dough; spread evenly with softened butter. Stir together brown sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle evenly over butter. Sprinkle chopped pecans evenly over brown sugar mixture.

Roll up, starting at one long end; cut into 12 (about 1-inch-thick) slices. Place rolls into a lightly greased 9-inch round pan or 9-inch square pan.

 Bake at 375° for 30 to 35 minutes or until center rolls are golden brown and done; cool slightly.

 

For Icing:

Stir together 1 cup powdered sugar, 3 Tbsp. milk, and 1/2 tsp. vanilla; drizzle evenly over rolls.

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12 days to Christmas!!  12 more days left to prepare for Christmas!!  Are you ready??  I have to say that I’m not even close to being ready!  The reason being is because I have not bought one present yet!!  Not a one!  When thinking about this I go into panic and stress mode.  I will try not to get myself so worked up but I will probably be spending the afternoon shopping on the internet.  It’s doesn’t help that it’s in the 80’s in South Florida. This may be playing a part in why I can’t get into the groove of Christmas.  While everyone else is experience really cold weather right now we are dressed in shorts in t-shirts.  I guess there are pros and cons of living in a mild climate but this time of the weather is when I miss the cold weather.  My parents have been visiting since Thursday (which is one of the reasons why I haven’t posted…sorry) and they have to check their flight out because Atlanta might have a chance of flurries!!  Crazy! 

To help me get into the spirit of everything and to also satisfy my dad and husbands sweet tooth I made gingerbread cookies this weekend.  I have to say the gingerbread cookies are great by themselves or with the filling.  The original recipe I tried for the filling was a little too sweet so I reduced the sugar and they came out a lot better.  The recipe below reflects my changes and my recommendations.  The gingerbread cookies are soft and chewy which is how I prefer my gingerbread cookies.  Also on the cookies I made the mistake of making them too big and they ended up spreading and getting really big.  Since they were so big and to avoid making them again I used a biscuit cutter to make them smaller.  I advised below to drop about 1 tsp sized cookies and this should help you to avoid my mistake.  As you can tell I had a lot of distractions while making these, hence the “mistakes”.  I had the girls, the dog, grandma, and grandpa all running and going crazy inside the house while I was trying to make these.  The kitchen so happen to be the place of choice for their fun.

I have also included that these are a great option to package up in a tin and tie a bow on top and give as a gift.  Maybe I should use this idea for someone….one down so more to go. 

Ok stress level rising again.  I’m going to take a deep breath and start my list and know that in the end everything will be ok.

Good luck everyone as you finish your last minute Christmas preparations!!

 

Gingerbread Cookie Sandwiches

Print Recipe

For Cookies:

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp salt

1 stick plus 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened

¾ cup sugar

1 large egg, at room temperature

¼ cup unsulfured molasses

For Filling:

6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened

1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar

1 Tbsp milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and position racks in the upper and lower thirds.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

To Make Cookies:

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and salt.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar at medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in the egg and molasses.  Add dry ingredients and beat at low speed until well incorporated, scraping down the sides.  Drop tbsp size dough onto the baking sheets, 3 inches apart.  Bake the cookies for 10-15 minutes, until risen and fallen and slightly firm; shift the sheets halfway through for even baking.  Let cool slightly then transfer the parchment paper to racks to cool completely.

 

To Make Filling:

In the bowl of a electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter with the confectioners’ sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in the milk until well combined.

Arrange the cookies in pairs on a large working surface and spoon or pipe onto the flat side of half of the cookie with filling.  Place the other cookie flat side down on top of cookie with filling and press down slightly until filling spreads to the edges. 

Sandwich cookies can be stored in an airtight container between sheets of wax paper for up to a week.

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Muffins, muffins, muffins!!  That’s the 4th holiday gift idea!  What a great thing to have in your pantry when you’re in the mood for muffins or like the pancakes need a quick breakfast idea.  The mix is easy to make and again I have combined whole wheat with regular all-purpose to get the whole grains in there.  I have also made this mix with using white whole wheat flour and whole wheat.  You do what you prefer.  For the girls I like knowing they are getting some of those whole grains in their diet.  Along with the recipe for the muffin mix I’ve included a recipe for Lemon Blueberry Muffins and Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins.  There are so many other ideas you can do with this muffin mix which makes it so great.

For the packaging, I used the same white bag as I used for the pancake mix from My Own Labels.  The label is also the same one I used for the Cinnamon Sugar Pecans.  The labels are again so easy to use because Paper Source includes the template so all you have to do is choose the font you want and test it out.  Easy!

Happy Holidays everyone and I hope you have found some of these gift ideas inspirational.  There is one more to go so stay tune!

 

Homemade Muffin Mix

Print Recipe

3 cups whole wheat flour
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
 
Whisk together all ingredients and store in an airtight container.
Lemon Blueberry Muffins
 
2 2/3 cups muffin mix
1/4 canola oil
1/4 unsweetened applesauce
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk or soy milk
Zest of one lemon
3/4 cup frozen blueberries
 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a mini or regular muffin pan with non-stick spray.
 
Whisk together in a medium bowl the oil, applesauce, eggs, vanilla, and milk.  Mix the muffin mix into the wet ingredient and mix until well combined.  Fold in lemon zest and blueberries.
Fill muffin tins 2/3 full and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in muffin comes out clean.
Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins
 
2 2/3 cups muffin mix
1/4 canola oil
1/4 unsweetened applesauce
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk or soy milk
1/2 – 3/4 tsp espresso powder
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a mini or regular muffin pan with non-stick spray.
 
Whisk together in a medium bowl the oil, applesauce, eggs, vanilla, and milk.  Mix the muffin mix into the wet ingredient and mix until well combined.  Fold in mini chocolate chips and espresso powder.
Fill muffin tins 2/3 full and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in muffin comes out clean.

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Here is the third of the five holiday food gift ideas.  This one I think might be my favorite!  Homemade Pancake Mix, a great mix to have around on those mornings where you want a few short cuts.  This mix even has whole grains in it so you will feel better making them for the kids (and even you).  You can mix in any favorite ingredients you would like.  Below are a few of my ideas.  I’ve included the basic pancake recipe, blueberry, and pumpkin.  I have a few more I might be trying with my pancake mix soon.  Like gingerbread and banana walnut.  I’ll post those if they are winners.  I usually make the girls pancakes and refrigerate some of them and freeze the rest.  The frozen ones will last up to two months.  Having the frozen pancakes are great when I wake up late and need something quick to make the girls before I have to head to work.  I just place them in the microwave to defrost and top with their toppings and serve….easy!

For the packaging, I found the white food bags from My Own Labels.  I went with the large so I could get more of the mix into the bag.  For the labels, I once again went to Paper-Source where they have a great selection of labels that come with templates.  I then used scrap book paper cut to size to cover the top of the bag and punched holes using a hand hole punch.  Then using natural raffia I put thru holes and tied a bow.

Another great holiday gift idea, or even something you can stock in your own cabinets.  Happy Holidays!!

Homemade Pancake Mix

Print Recipe

2 cups whole wheat flour
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 powdered milk (I used organic nonfat)
1/4 sugar
2 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 Tbsp salt
 
Add all ingredients and whisk together.  Store in a airtight container until ready to use.
There are a couple different recipes you can make with this simple mix.  Here are a few that I found delicious.  The great thing about this basic recipe is you can use your imagination to come up with the pancakes your family enjoys the most.
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Pancakes
 
3/4 cup water
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 egg
In a large bowl, add pancake mix, water, melted butter and egg.  Mix together well. 
 
Spray a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and set over medium heat, Spoon 1/4 cup batter into skillet for each pancake, and cook until small bubbles begin to form on top, 2 to 3 minutes.  You may need to reduce the heat slightly at this point.  Using a spatula, flip pancakes and cook until golden brown and puffy, 2 to 3 minutes.  Remove from pan and stack the pancakes, Top with your topping of choice.
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Blueberry Pancakes
 
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 water
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 egg
3/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
 
In a large bowl, add pancake mix, cinnamon, water, melted butter and egg.  Mix together well.  Fold in blueberries. 
 
Spray a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and set over medium heat, Spoon 1/4 cup batter into skillet for each pancake, and cook until small bubbles begin to form on top, 2 to 3 minutes.  You may need to reduce the heat slightly at this point.  Using a spatula, flip pancakes and cook until golden brown and puffy, 2 to 3 minutes.  Remove from pan and stack the pancakes, Top with your topping of choice.
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Pumpkin Spice Pancakes
 
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground ginger
3/4 water
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 egg
1/2 cup pumpkin
 
In a large bowl, add pancake mix, spices, water, melted butter, egg, and pumpkin.  Mix together well. 
 
Spray a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and set over medium heat, Spoon 1/4 cup batter into skillet for each pancake, and cook until small bubbles begin to form on top, 2 to 3 minutes.  You may need to reduce the heat slightly at this point.  Using a spatula, flip pancakes and cook until golden brown and puffy, 2 to 3 minutes.  Remove from pan and stack the pancakes, Top with your topping of choice.

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Cinnamon Sugar Pecans

Here is 2 of 5 in the holiday gift idea series.  This recipe is one my mom taught me and this is a really easy recipe.  Growing up in Georgia, pecans are a favorite and every holiday my grandfather would give my mom a big container of pecans.  I’m not sure where he got them from but my mom used it for several things but these pecans were one of them.  My mom’s recipe is a mixture of sugar and salt and she likes them a little more salty then I prefer.  I added cinnamon to mine and used less salt.  As you can tell you can customize them to your preference.  These came to mind when I was trying to think of gift ideas because they are a favorite around my house.  I make them every Fall.  I remember making these before our road trip to Charleston for our wedding.  Due to a lot of money going to the wedding this was our go-to snack on our road trip, which meant less money spent on other things along the way.  I think Scott finished them all before we even got to the South Carolina boarder! 

I microwave the pecans in this recipe because that’s how my mom taught me, but you can also bake them in the oven at 350 till they are crunchy.  I even find that sometimes I don’t microwave them long enough and stick them in the oven to cook a little more till they are crunchy. 

For the packaging of the pecans I found these great frosted bags from My Own Labels.  For the label, I went back to a reliable source Paper Source who has several wonderful things.  I found these labels which were even better because they came with a template.  I just used Tempus Sans ITC for the font.  Very easy!

Enjoy!

Cinnamon Sugar Pecans

Print Recipe

1 1/2 cups whole pecans
3 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
Boiling Water
 
Place pecans in a colander.  In a saucepan bring water to a boil.  Once at a boil pour boiling water over pecans and drain.  Transfer pecans to a microwave safe dish.  Evenly sprinkle sugar, cinnamon, and salt over pecans and stir until all pecans are evenly coated.  Place dish in microwave and cook on high for 2 minutes.  Remove dish and stir pecans.  Microwave the pecans for another 2 minutes and remove and stir.  Then place the dish in the microwave again for 1 minute and remove to stir.  You want to make sure the pecans aren’t browning too much.  If they are browning too much then do not place them in the microwave the last minute.  If they aren’t brown place in the microwave again for another 1 minute.  Pour the pecans out on parchment paper and let cool.  Once cooled they should be crunchy.  If they aren’t you can always place in a oven preheated to 350 for a couple additional minutes.

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It’s December!  Wow!  It’s so hard to believe Christmas is right around the corner.  To start off December, I decided that my next five posts will be all about Christmas Gift ideas.  Of course, food Christmas gift ideas.  About a month ago my roommate from college sent me a comment on my blog for ideas to send her triplet nieces and nephew for Christmas.  Her specific request was mixes.  She also wanted something that would be easy to ship since they lived in a different state then her.  I already started brainstorming ideas for my holiday posts before I received her comment, but this really started to spark more ideas.  To start off I decided to post my Christmas cookie mix.  I got the idea from the very talented Bakerella, but changed her recipe by adding a mix of all-purpose flour and white whole wheat flour.  If you have been following my blog you have noticed I try to use whole grains when I can.  I also added cinnamon, removed the pecans, added less M&M’s and more chocolate chips.  I guess I changed it more than I thought.  The cookies turned out great and I think the idea to package this up and give as a gift at Christmas is great!  Especially in the economy we are in!  I purchased the clear Ball jars from Michael’s craft store and the labels I got from Paper Source and what was even better is they have a template to follow on their site.  I had to do several test runs and try to match the best red with the label but in the end it was pretty easy.  I got the ribbon from Michael’s too.  I was going to use fabric to cover the top like Bakerella did but in the end used a double layer of red tissue paper and it worked fine. 

I think the best part about this cookie mix is you could use it year-round.  Just change the M&M color you use or you could even substitute the M&M’s for white chocolate chips.  I actually might try that next time because I’m not a fan of M&M’s in my cookies.  This is also a great mix for the kids to help you with in the kitchen.  Just mix butter, vanilla extract, and an egg into the dry ingredients and have them help you roll the dough in balls. 

Chelsie, I hope this is a start and stay tune to homemade pancake mix, cinnamon sugar pecans, homemade muffin mix, and one other special treat I’m working on.

Happy December everyone and happy baking!!!

Christmas Cookie Mix in a Jar

Print Recipe

¾ cup all purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup & leveled

½ cup white whole wheat flour, spooned into a measuring cup & leveled
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ tsp salt

½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup cooking oats
½ cup m&ms, red and green (or color of choice)
¾  cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
½  cup brown sugar, packed
½  cup white sugar

Add:

1 slightly beaten egg
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (melted slightly in the microwave)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Use the back of a large spoon to work it all together. You may even need to use your hands to get everything incorporated.

Then roll the cookie dough into 1 1/2 inch balls, place on a parchment covered baking sheet. 

I spaced them about an inch apart.

Bake for about 10 -15 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven.  I got about 26-28 cookies out of these.

Start with a 1 quart smooth Ball jar. I found mine at Michael’s Craft Store.

Layer the ingredients in like this:

First: flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon
Second: oats
Third: m&ms
Fourth: chocolate chips
Fifth: brown sugar
Sixth: white sugar

Pack each level down really tightly. I mean it. Pack it in. Or else it won’t all fit. The ingredients should be flush to the top of the lid when you seal it up.

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