Sunday, November 30, 2008

Cookie Day 2008 report

Well, I am almost recovered from Cookie Day, and only a week later, lol!
We had a nice day of baking, and managed to turn out 30 kinds of cookies this year. One of our last minute add-ins didn't turn out, so that left 29 different types of cookies available for cookie trays. I will post some pics as soon as I get them...I was too tired to take any myself but a few of the participants did take a couple so I just have to gather them.
The biggest hit this year, as always, was the sugar cookies from my mom's recipe. They turned out beautifully. We only made Christmas trees this year to make the trays look more polished..not to mention save us work! Other favorites were the candy cane puffs and sandies. My mom couldn't find her cookie press at the last minute, so we ended up forming the spritz cookies into candy canes. We dyed half the dough red and made both colors into little half inch balls of dough, then rolled them out together into a rope shape. As we put them on the baking trays, we twisted the dough and shaped it into canes. They turned out cute but they didn't hold up all that well on the trays...hard for a thin shaped cookies to survive with all the heavy-weights on the trays!
Some of the cookies we added at the last minute were some Sugarless Star cookies, orange-pineapple drops, Chunky Monkey Bites and Red Velvet Whoopie pies (yes, I slipped up during the baking and called them whoopie cushions!). I will eventually post the recipes for you.
Next year we'll probably be reverting back to the cinnamon spirals (we gave them up this year because we were doing the Cinnamon-sugar cookies) because even though they're a lot of work, they look really nice when done, and taste better than the new ones did.
So, that's the cookie report for today. It has been a crazy crazy week. Baking Sat and Sun last weekend, working and visiting my family Wed...I helped my neice make the cutest turkies out of those striped chocolate cookies and chocolate covered cherries and candy corn, all pasted together with chocolate frosting. She was so excited to give them to everyone at the big family dinner on Thursday!
Randy got a last minute chance to go to Chicago for the weekend, so we stayed up after we got home on Thanksgiving. At about 2:30 am, he went home to sleep for a few hours before the drive to Chicago and I headed off to pick my mom up for Black Friday shopping. We hit our first sale at 4am and shopped straight through until around 10/11 am. We got back to her house, carried in our packages and fell asleep on the couch. We woke up later in the day and headed back out...what a day of shopping! We are not seasoned shoppers by any means...sometimes we do the after-Thanksgiving shopping, sometimes we don't...this year we did it and then some! We stayed out shopping until the stores all closed at 10pm, then headed for my parent's house. I spent the night there, then my mom and I got up the next day and headed to my house to pick up some supplies, then we went to Randy's house and painted his living room and kitchen. I had been planning to do it as a gift for him for a while now and his unexpected trip to Chicago provided the perfect time. The living room looks fabulous....maybe I can get him to post a picture. We worked until after midnight, then drove an hour back to my mom's house with a stop at White Castle as our reward. They have sweet potato fries there, those were good after that long day! I slept late this morning at my parents, helped my mom do a few things, then headed for home and work, what a weekend!
Now, I'm back to catching up on homework and BakingGALS stuff, so if you're one of my bakers, don't worry; we're on track for this round's mailing and things are good. I got an email from the father of this month's soldier. He gave me a little bio and his son's address. I posted the info on the BakingGALS site and I'll be sending out the address right before mailing begins.
And that's all I have to report for tonight....I hope all the blog readers had a wonderful holiday filled with yummy (and nutty!) baked goodies!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Finally Some Pics

Here are some long awaited pics from Round 4. Many thanks to everyone who participated.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Thank you Baking GALS!!

To all my bakers for team JustAddNuts, I have heard from Jaime, Alex's wife and she gave me permission to post her letter. Apparently the first email she sent me was lost somewhere in cyber land, so this is the one she sent after we figured that'll notice at the end that it has some comments about some of the earlier packages he received. I did tell her I couldn't claim ownership of the first packages but that mine and others were on the way. In the second note she sent, she says that Alex has set up a "sharing station" so that all the American soldiers passing through can grab some goodies as they go by. Jaime says Alex is loving this new duty of sharing our goodies! It sounds like everything got to him in great shape, and the only request he had was for ziplocks or more individual packaging to make the sharing easier. I think next time I send a package out I'll include a box of ziplocks in the mix, to make it easier for the soldiers to pack and take along.

I also want to take the time to thank all of you who baked packages to send out for Round Four. It was extremely successful for our team! I received pictures from some of you, which I'm trying to make into a collage of sorts and post here on the blog. It might take me a while to get that done though, considering my computer inadequacy and the time issues going on right now. I will try to have it done well before round Five starts!
Speaking of Round Five, mailing will take place from Dec 5-18, just in time for think about signing up for another round if you're able.

Here's Jaime's letter:

Hi Val,

My uncle Dennis asked me to contact you. I had sent a email a while back but you must not have received it, they are so easy to get wrong.. those email addresses. So, anyhow you sent a wonderful package to my husband SFC Alex Herrera in Iraq. He is greatly appreciative. Alex is a amazing man! He is such a kind loving caring person, sometimes it is hard for me to think of him as a soldier. He joined the US Army when he was twenty, he was a misguided young man at the time, I know I dated him then But still a special person none the less. I remember dropping him off at the bus for basic training and watching him walk away and crying all the way home, not knowing how many more times I would be dropping this man off to go somewhere. He was full time military for many years, a Gulf War veteran before he was 30. He joined the reserves, started attending college and we started our family. All was well until 911 which was when he really felt he needed to be involved. As God must have know he had this desire, he was deployed in 2004 to Iraq for a 18 month deployment. He returned home my same wonderful man, husband but secretly couldn't wait to go back. This was hard to understand even for me because I was never a Full time Army wife, but for some reason it is completely clear to me now. Alex is excellent at his job, he has skills that not every man has. He uses these skills at a time of need which is very important to him. He does his job so others don't have to. His primary job in all of his overseas tours, and man I think have lost count, is to train soldiers to protect themselves. He has trained American troops before heading into Iraq, which is so rewarding for him. A lot of these guys are young, scared and have not a lot of experience. So when they leave Alexs shooting range, they feel much more confident and secure with their weapons and have gained some real knowledge of what they are going to be headed into. His job title in Kuwait was a Tactics trainer. Currently in Iraq he is a "ADVISOR TO THE IRAQI ARMY". He teaches them how to teach their soldiers so they can protect their own country. Currently, he frequently gets American troops in for training as well, but his job title is advisor to Iraqi army. Ok this is the 4th tour, but he does get to come home during tours as well.

When he is home one of the first places we go to is St. Helen Michigan. It is like a retreat for us, a place our 2 boys just love as well. Up north is a quality time place for us. I also take the boys up frequently after their dad has left for a tour. They seem to acclimate better to dads departure there. I also have a ton of family that goes there, my awesome Uncle Dennis as you. Family is good for you in times like these. I could have never made it through these past few years if not for my family. Alex knows this as well, in some ways it is our family that allows him to do his job. He knows when we go up north Uncle Dennis and the rest of the family is watching out for his wife and kids, and that makes him a little more at ease with his job.

Well I hope this helps you understand the man you are supporting, it is just wonderful that people like you show support. He loved the packages and plans to share with other American soldiers. He really liked the Christmas lights, funny sometimes its the simple things. This is our second Christmas approaching that we will be apart, but hopefully the last. I have most frequently called this job a "calling" for my husband. He is a dedicated man as well as a wonderful father and husband and I am truly blessed to have him.

Thanks again, and may God bless you.

Jaime Burrell-Herrera

Sunday, November 16, 2008

It's almost COOKIE DAY!!

By the way, if anyone has been printing out cookie recipes, you should know that I made an error in the Cinnamon Sugar Cookies. I omitted the flour in the list of ingredients. One of my baking gals pointed it out for me, so I just went back and edited it. The recipe needs 2 1/2 cups of flour. It wasn't omitted in the directions, I guess I just skipped a line. It's all fixed now but I wanted to note it in case anyone had printed it. I hope no one made cookie soup because of me! Hmmm....well, if you did, let me know how it turned out...sounds kind of good! lol

I'm taking a one week break from Baking GALS...except necessities...I am concentrating this week on three things: COOKIE DAY, getting my house back in order (I put in three new windows last window treatments yet...neighbors might be sick of the show!), and catching up on some homework (I'm a part-time student in addition to the other craziness...I had been taking a break recently but the college harassed me into returning and taking two classes...problem is I didn't sign up til the class was already in session so I started two weeks I have lots of homework I need to get done!).
BUT, for the next couple days, COOKIES is my focus. I only do this once a year and I don't want to disappoint anyone by not being a cookie freak. Did I mention I made matching aprons for my bakers? lol...yep, I'm nuts!

Randy and I spent pretty much this entire weekend at my parents house. Randy lost his job a few months ago so he decided to catch himself a freezer full of meat...and my dad being the ultimate sportsman taught him to hunt. Anyway, they spent the weekend traipsing through the woods and my mom and I went shopping....good weekend, but not a ton got accomplished at my house. At least I got a little Christmas shopping done but I still have a ton to do.

I think I mentioned before that my mom is the one who's always pressuring me to cut back the cookie bake, then whenever she sees me she's showing me more recipes! Well, spending the entire weekend at her house, our cookie list has grown. We are now up to 29 types of cookies for this year, and I'm very much considering adding a No-Bake recipe if I can find one I like...maybe I'm a little OCD, but I like nice round numbers! (and if anyone has a really great no-bake cookie recipe they can share, I would love to have it!)
I doubt I'm going to have time to post all the new recipes before next weekend (pesky homework!), although I will post them eventually. Instead, I'll just explain to you all how I do the schedules. It's pretty simple really, I gather up all the recipes I want to use and then narrow it down to the number mom allows me (lol). Once I have all the recipes together, I start adding up all the ingredients we need. I divide the ingredients by the number of people participating in the cookie bake (six this year). In our case, I give my mom all the little spices and flavorings that we only need a little bit of, since she's got it all at her house already and there's no sense in someone buying a big jar or bottle of something we only need a teaspoon of. I also give her anything that might be a pain to transport for the others. Then I add to my list anything that is unusual or hard to find or that I think someone might not get the right one for the recipe so we don't have any nasty cookie day surprises. After that, I divide up the rest of the ingredients so all six lists come up equal. Mom and I try to estimate how much the ingredients cost on each list so everyone ends up spending around the same amount. This year, the estimate for each list was about $25. And we give out the lists early so that everyone can try to buy most of their things on sale. I also always make sure to get some of the basics on my list and mom's because we've been known to get up in the wee hours and get started (usually mixing dough that needs refrigeration).
After I get the ingredients divided, it's time to start the schedules. First, I read through each recipe to take note of which ones need to be mixed and refrigerated for a certain amount of time. Then I pile the recipes in front of me, divided by baking temp. I either start with the 300 degree recipes (as is the case this year) or the 400 degree ones and work my way up or down from there so we're not constantly adjusting the oven temp. I usually decide who goes first by looking at the piles...if a recipe in one or the other pile has icing or gets dipped in chocolate or something that has to set, etc, I do that end of the spectrum first so they have time to set longer before we divvy them up.
So once the cookies are in order by baking temp, I arrange them within the temp range. I try to arrange them with a lower prep one mixed with a higher prep to give us time to keep up with the oven. If I'm doing one bar cookie, I try to bake it with something else that I know we'll have three trays to bake, so the oven always has both racks full of cookies. So, then I start filling the cookies into a baking time chart....this year, it starts at 9am with the Cinnamon Sugar Cookies. I always allow for the maximum baking time and round up (if I have two ovens-full of cookies baking for 12 minutes each, I round up to 25 mins for the total...I know, generous, huh? lol). It always works out because most of the cookies don't take the max time to bake, especially when the oven is on all day, so we're usually ahead of schedule by a few minutes.
After the baking schedule, I do the "forming schedule" and the "mixing schedule" at the same time. It's pretty easy to figure out; you just look at the baking schedule and make sure the next cookie to bake is ready on time. I usually have two people mixing, two people forming (rolling out, cutting, forming balls, filling cookie trays). The other two people are baking and finishing the cookies (dipping in toppings, rolling in powdered sugar, etc.
I start the mixers with the first cookie to go in the oven, so they can send the batch to the forming table to be put on trays, then I have them work on the recipes that have to be refrigerated, starting with the one that needs the longest and going down the list. I usually schedule the cookies to be formed about 15 minutes before they bake, just in case we get ahead on the oven a little.
This year, my mom and I are going to bake the sugar cookies ahead so they have time to cool completely before we ice and decorate them. In previous years, we've baked part of them, or none at all beforehand, and that works too, but this year we're going to try to save our bakers by cutting 2 hours out of the baking schedule (we make eight batches!). All six of us will decorate them together at mid-day; the rest of the day everyone will be mostly at her station. The baker keeps the oven going...with so many cookies coming and going, it's important to have one person focused on them...the last thing we want is burned cookies! The finisher takes over where the baker ends, topping some cookies with chocolate bars and coconut (Chocolate Oat Chewies), swirling some in chocolate and nuts (Almond Chocolate Chippers), rolling some in powdered sugar (Sandies), etc...just all that fun little stuff that makes the cookies look so pretty and done.
Everyone gets a detailed list of their station's duties, along with the right tools to do the job and instructions about when to pass the recipe on to the next station. There are a few recipes that go straight from mixing to oven (bar cookies mostly) and some go to the fridge before's all really pretty simple. And there's always someone available to help one person get on track if they need it. The baker usually has some time while cookies are baking to do up a few dishes or help out with mixing, etc. No one is really over-worked, although it does tend to be a long day.
After all the baking, the finisher arranges the final cookies on the tables in the family room. We all go out there and admire our hard work, then we sit and have a cup of tea...maybe sample a cookie if we want to, or have a little snack. We sit and talk for a while, then everyone gets out her trays or containers and we walk around the tables filling them. I always have a list of who I'm giving trays to so I can tailor the tray to the recipients. I wrap them up airtight and put a removable tag on each one with the name and date I plan to give it out, then they go straight into a freezer until it's time to hand them out. I always bring a big tray to work the next day and that eats up most of my cookies. My mom likes to freezer hers all by type, then make trays up right out of the freezer when she wants one.
So, that's it...if anyone wants to plan a cookie bake, it's really not that hard, just a bit time really have to check the recipes twice to make sure you allow time for all the steps. I usually finish my schedules, then I take each recipe one at a time and read the steps, making sure they're all scheduled to be done. I've done any where from 25-42 cookies each year and most people come back for more cookie bake the next year!
And now, I'm off....gotta re-write my schedules now that we've added new recipes....I'll try to post again soon but it might not be til next week.

By the way, Baking GALS next round is going to be from December 5-18, so keep those baking supplies close by!


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Baking GALS: busy weekend!

Well, round 4 is over... I spent the weekend baking. I packed the box for Alex on Friday night and Randy mailed it on Saturday morning, then Saturday we went to my parents house. Randy was hanging out with my dad while my mom and I cut up her extra Halloween pumpkins, boiled them and made pumpkin mush, which was then turned into pumpkin pound cake. I brought home some of the extra mush and on Sunday baked some pumpkin-chip cookies along with two batches of oatmeal bars. We filled a second box with those and Randy mailed them to his friend Dan this afternoon.
Now it's on to round 5. We'll be mailing from December 5-18, so if my bakers are up for participating again, let me know. I'm not sure how Susan is handling it at the baking GALS site, whether you have to sign up again or what, but if you email me telling me you want to bake again in round five, I will be sure you get the mailing info!
I received a letter from Alex's wife today, thanking us for the goodies. I'm going to write her back in a few minutes and ask for her permission to post it here for all of you to see.
I'm up to my eyeballs in cookies right now. This crazy Cookie Bake requires a ton of organization to get it right, then throw in Baking GALS and I'm almost eating, sleeping and breathing cookies...not that that's a bad thing! At my mom's on Sunday though, she was pulling out recipes for cookies. She saves them all year, then tries to pile them on me at cookie time, while at the same time telling me I need to cut back and not make so many different kinds...grrr! Good thing I love that woman like no one else in this world!
I also got to see my mom's new kitchen for the first time since they got the countertops put in....they are gorgeous! I want granite too! Anyone want to donate $6000 to Val's new kitchen? lol...sure wish I could get myself that for Christmas but even I am not that generous to me...not this year anyway!
I hope the baking went well for all of Team JustAddNuts bakers. I got a few emails and pictures that I'm going to try to make into a collage and post here...I may have to get Randy to lend a hand with that one....he's the computer whiz, something I have never claimed to be. If anyone else has pictures they want to send, please do that soon. And feel free to send some with you and your helpers in them...we like smiles here at JustAddNuts to go with the cookies ;)
Well, that's it, I just thought it was time for a blog post here since I finally ran out of recipes from the '08 Cookie Bake. There might be one last minute substitution...I'm still trying to work in one of Mom's recipes...Chunky Monkey...who can go wrong with a name like that? I'll post the recipe next time I get a chance. I'm at work right now and I actually had to do a LOT of work tonight...usually it's quiet so I can't complain, but tonight I don't have time to do too much internet stuff so I'm signing off!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Recipe # 25 Dipped Shortbread Fingers

This is it, the last of the 25 recipes!!! Woohoo, I made it!
We have been making various shortbread recipes since the first cookie bake. Most of them turn out nice but they tend to look a little boring which is a no-no for my cookie trays, so this is a new one we're trying this year and we're livening it up by dipping it in jimmies.

Dipped Shortbread Fingers

1 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
white melting chocolate
red and green jimmies (look next to the decorator sugars)

Cream butter and brown sugar. Beat in vanilla. Gradually add flour, beating well as you add.
Shape 1/2 cup of dough into 1/2 inch diameter logs, cut logs into 2 inch pieces. (why are directions always so complicated??? Just form them into 2 by 1/2 inch logs!)
Bake on ungreased baking sheets at 325 degrees for 15-17 minutes or until lightly browned.

After cookies are cool, dip or brush them with white chocolate and then sprinkle or dip them in the jimmies. Wala!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Recipe # 24 Ginger Sandwich Wafers

This is a recipe I adapted from a couple of others. I am kind of famous, or infamous depending on what they got to be the guinea pig for, for doing this. We haven't tried this one yet so I don't know if it's a winner or a flop. I normally don't mess with baking recipes and especially not until I've tried them once the original way, but I guess I was feeling adventurous when we made this year's line-up. I don't have the original recipes to share at the moment so I guess you'll all just have to bear with me....sorry!

Ginger Sandwich Wafers
1/2 cup margarine, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup light molasses
1 large egg
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups flour

Beat margarine, sugar and molasses until light and fluffy. Add egg, orange peel and spices, beat until well blended. Stir in flour. Dough will be very stiff.
Divide dough in half. Roll each into an 8-inch log that is 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap logs in waxed paper and refrigerate at least 5 hours or up to 3 days.
Form dough into 1/2 inch balls. Place about 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Flatten each ball with the bottom of a glass until they're about 1/4 inch thick.
Bake about 12 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Cool on wire racks.

Sandwich icing between two cookies. *We plan to use the same icing that we use for sugar cookies, but you can use any you like. Or melt something between them...caramel, marshmallow....whatever you like...and don't forget to tell me about it!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Recipe # 23 Cinnamon Sugar Cookies

This is another recipe that's attributed to Mrs. Fields. She must be a busy lady! Hopefully all of her cookies are good too. This one I haven't tried yet but since her oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are so favored around our households, I was more than willing to give this one a trial in this year's bake.

3 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup dark brown sugar; packed
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup butter; softened (we'll probably use margarine though)
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Cream butter with sugars to form a grainy paste. Scrape sides of bowl, then cream in eggs and vanilla. Mix at medium speed until light and fluffy. Mix together flour, soda and salt until well mixed, then add to butter mixture, blending on low until just combined. Do not over mix. Shape dough into 1 inch balls and roll each in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 300 degrees for 18-20 minutes. Immediately remove from pans for cooling.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Recipe # 22 Praline Cookies

This is a stove top recipe, no baking. I'm always looking for a way to increase production without needing the oven longer. I found this recipe for last year's bake but it didn't make it to the list so we worked it in this year. My dad is a big fan of praline so hopefully he'll enjoy these.

Praline Cookies

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup margarine
1 5oz can evaporated skim milk
10 large marshmallows
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup nuts, chopped (we're going with pecans for this one)

Combine sugar, margarine and evaporated milk in saucepan. Bring to a boil and continue boiling for 6 minutes. Remove from heat; add marshmallows, graham cracker crumbs and nuts. Mix until melted. Quickly drop onto wax paper to cool.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Recipe # 21 Toffee Squares

These are a new cookie for the '08 Bake. I'm not entirely sure where this recipe came from. We found it in our recipe collection on a little slip of paper. It kind of looks like something that got emailed to one of us and printed for the future. Well, the future is finally coming and these cookies will get their day in the oven. Hopefully they make the grade!

Toffee Squares
1 cup margarine, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour mixed with 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 package MILK chocolate chips (oops, it specifies Nestle...I think I got a clue where this one originated)
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

Cream margarine, brown sugar, egg yolk and vanilla. Add salted flour. Mix well; batter will be stiff. Spread the batter into lightly buttered cookie sheet with sides (the recipe doesn't specify a size so we'll go with medium unless the dough volume seems to call for a bigger or smaller size when the time comes).
Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Melt chocolate in microwave (I hate this, I'll do mine on the stove over boiling water) and spoon over hot cookie dough. Sprinkle with pecans and cut into squares when cool. The recipe says 2 dozen but I'm thinkin it depends on how you cut them....boy am I a smart one :P

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Recipe # 20 Peanut Butter

I have yet to find a Peanut Butter cookie recipe I think is perfect. I used to make some in my Easy Bake Oven that were fabulous, at least according to my memory, but I lost the recipe. I do remember it only had about four ingredients and the cookies were shaped like fists...well, maybe that was because I didn't understand the "form into balls" part so I just squeezed some dough together in my hand, lol! But they were also quite crumbly so they wouldn't really work for cookie trays anyway...sigh.
My mom prefers the peanut butter cookies where you press a chocolate kiss into them, but since we already have another cookie that has a kiss pressed in, we decided to go with another stand-by, the criss-cross fork tine pattern. They're easy, they taste good, they fit trays nice...sounds like a keeper to me.

Peanut Butter cookies
1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda

Thoroughly cream margarine, peanut butter, sugars, egg and vanilla. Blend in baking soda and flour, mixing well.
Shape into 1 inch balls, roll in granulated sugar. Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Press a fork's tine into each cookie twice at ninety degree angles. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Cool slightly before removing from baking sheets.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Recipe # 19 Sugar Plums

And here's Monday's recipe I don't have to stress about this til Tuesday. Oh yeah, and don't forget to VOTE!!

This is a new recipe for Cookie Bake '08. We saw them in a magazine while picking this year's line-up. These ones are a bit of work, but we cut a few of the other time consuming recipes out this year so we decided we could afford the time to give them a try. Believe me, if they don't work out, they'll get cut fast! So far the only problem I see is finding plum flavored jam. I have looked more than once in three different stores and still haven't found it (and of course I put it on my own shopping list....grrrr!). I did find a few recipes on recipezaar for making it, so if it comes down to that I'll have to get my hands on a couple plums and whip some up the day before. Good thing I scheduled cookie day on a Sunday this year!

If anyone has made these or tried anything similar, I welcome your comments and input!

Sugar Plums
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup butter
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
(*I plan to put the following 3 in the food processor together)
1/2 cup finely chopped raisins
1/2 cup finely chopped dates
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
2 Tablespoons plum jam
6 Tablespoons melted butter
Decorator sugars---your choice. We're using red because our sugar cookies will have green covered.

Beat together the cup of butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add flour, salt and baking powder. Stir. Refrigerate 1 hour.
Combine the finely chopped raisins, dates and pecans with the plum jam.
Break off rounded teaspoonfuls of dough. Form into 3/4 inch balls. Make a deep indentation in each ball. Put a 1/4 teaspoon of plum filling in each dent then pinch closed.
Chill the balls for 1 hour.
Bake on a greased baking sheet at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.
After slightly cooling, but while cookies are still a bit warm, brush with the melted butter and then roll in the decorator sugar to coat. Cool completely before serving.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Recipe # 18 Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Walnut Cookies

Woohoo, got that last one in before midnight so now I only missed two days of recipe posting and I'll be on track again after posting this one :)
This recipe is said to have been "stolen" from Mrs. Fields. I don't know if that's true or not, but they are good enough to have been worth stealing. These have been a family favorite for years and years. I was visiting my cousin the weekend before last and she mentioned that she mixes up a big batch of these, forms them into balls and then keeps the balls in the freezer. She and her husband will pop a few out of the freezer and into the oven for a quick desert. I think that's a great idea and I hope I remember to follow her lead and do the same.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Walnut Cookies

1 cup margarine
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups flour
2 1/2 cups old fashioned oatmeal
12 oz chocolate chips
1 1/2 cup chopped nuts (we almost always use walnuts)

Cream the margarine and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Stir in baking powder, baking soda and flour. Mix well. Stir in oatmeal. Gently stir in chocolate chips and nuts.

Roll into large balls (the original recipe says golf-ball sized) and bake on lightly greased baking sheets for about 8-10 minutes at 325 degrees.

Recipe # 17 German Chocolate Bars

My mom found this recipe free in a magazine when they started making those Nestle Swirled Morsels. Those are the ones that mix the brown and white chocolates all in one little chocolate chip. These look beautiful so I really do recommend getting the swirled morsels. Another thing great about these cookies is that they're easy to cut and they keep their shape nice on a cookie tray. Oh yeah, and they taste good!

German Chocolate Bars

1 (18.25oz) German Chocolate Cake mix
1/3 cup margarine, softened
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 large egg, unbeaten
14 oz sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/3 unsweetened coconut, divided
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup swirled morsels, divided

Place the cake mix in a bowl and cut in the margarine and lightly beaten egg with a pastry blender until crumbly. Press the mixture into the bottom of an ungreased 9 by 13 pan. Combine sweetened condensed milk, unbeaten egg and vanilla and beat until well combined. Stir in 1 cup of coconut, the pecans and 1/2 cup of the swirled morsels. Spread evenly over base; sprinkle with remaining coconut and morsels. Lightly press down the morsels with your hand. Bake for 30-35 minutes in a 350 degree oven (center will be almost set when done baking and feel firm when cool). them, cut them into the size bar you like and try not to eat all of them at once ;)

Getting behind!

Well, I knew this day would come sooner or later. I was doing good at sharing the 25 recipes for the Cookie Bake, but life has come between me and my blog as I knew it would. I am a few days behind sharing the cookie recipes. I'm so happy to be back to working midnights! Because of my wonderful new hours, I got to spend Halloween with my four favorite girls in the world, my nieces. Randy and I stopped at a costume shop before we went to my brother's to do the Trick or Treat thing and he got a prisoner costume for himself and another for his dog, Freddie. We saw the kids off and then handed out candy at their house while they were Trick or Treating in the neighborhood. Randy got a few good comments and I told everyone that we were all sitting around making the prisoner do the hard labor. One of the girls begging candy said to him "I hope this candy isn't poisoned!" Kids do say the darnedest things as the saying goes...and of course Randy being much wittier than I, had a snappy come-back, telling her "Nope, that was the last batch, you should be fine." I love it! My brother had brought his patio fire pit thingy out to the driveway so my parents and Randy and I sat around it as dark came on along with the cooler temperatures. It was a fun night! Even more so since I was afraid I was going to have to miss it this year.
On Saturday, we had a costume party of our own to go to. We got the prisoner costume because the biggest news around this area lately has been the mayor of Detroit getting in trouble for a sex/text message scandal and lying about it, which cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars it can ill afford. In fact, he finally started serving his jail time a few days before Halloween. So Randy was the mayor and I was his "best ho" (that's what he told everyone anyway, lol). It was fun, we had a great time at the party and everyone loved the costumes. I've been known to be attached to some rather low-cut styles, but I have NEVER gone out dressed quite as looking? I did on Saturday. Which was fine for the party but then Randy was thirsty and wanted a coke and he couldn't go in a store the way he was dressed, so guess which Best Ho had to go get her man a coke? Yep, that'd be me~~ I sooo wanted to tell the lady at the counter that I don't normally dress like that, but I just gave her my money and tried to pretend everything was
Today, I just hung out at Randy's house til it was time to leave for work. We went by his mom's earlier in the day to move this huge lighthouse we made her for last Christmas inside for the winter and share the Halloween pictures with her.
About all I did over the weekend as far as online updates went was answer a few Baking GALS emails. We are doing GREAT with our team! We have 12 members on our team and 9 of them have been in contact with me and gotten our soldier's address, so he and his buddies overseas should be filled with home-baked yummies very soon! I sent a letter to Alex on the 30th of Oct to warn him to watch for the boxes. Randy and I are planning to fill ours and get it in the mail on either Friday or Saturday, so we'll be posting pics here soon. I'm also hoping the other bakers will share at least a pic each...but I haven't started harassing them yet so we'll see! I wonder who will be the first to get a box in the mail...I bet one or two people have already done it. Randy and I had ours mailed out the first day of shipping last round, but all this organizing is a lot more work than the baking so I'm behind.
So there's my update on my life. Back to sharing cookie bake recipes now. Does anyone have interest in the way I divide the ingredients amongst my bakers and the schedules for the big day? If not, I'll spare the world my nuttiness in this instance and just share something new when I finish with the cookie recipes.