Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Almost holiday cookie time!

Did everyone have a good Thanksgiving holiday?  I sure did.  I managed to forget to take pictures but we had three (yes three) Thanksgiving dinners in as many days and one more still to come.  I of course did some baking, made some orange cranberry muffins, and more to come most likely.  But mainly I'm excited for Christmas cookies. 

See, people tend to give me baking things as gifts quite a bit (which rocks) and this summer I received these:

I have several things from this company and they all make me smile :)

Now the ninja cookies would be awesome on their own no doubt, but I also happen to have these:

So this year there will be an epic ninja Christmas cookie battle at my home.   Results to follow soon. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Winter Wonderland

This morning we woke up to this:

The little man was thrilled and with no school or work today we all got to go out and play. 

We made a snow man:

okay, actually I made a snow man while snow balls were being thrown at me...(fortunately his aim isn't great yet)

And when we came back inside we warmed up with hot cocoa and these cinnamon buns I made the other day.  Yum.

Are you enjoying your Saturday?  Hope so.  

And now to work on some hats : )

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sweet 16th! Turkey Cookies

Hello friends!  This month's sweet 16th is a cookie that is fun for the whole family to help make.  This has been a Thanksgiving time cookie tradition in my family since I was a little girl and now I'm thrilled to be making them with my son.

Here's my would be helper:

he was going to be helpful until he realized he could just eat the ingredients by themselves...

Speaking of which, here's what you need:

candy corn, caramel, chocolate kiss (or chocolate stars, I couldn't find any this year) and a striped cookie.

The first step is to unwrap a handful of caramels and then microwave them for 10-15 seconds until they are soft.

Smush the caramel into a vague turkey body shape and press it onto the chocolate kiss.

Next press the back of the caramel onto the cookie:

Finally, press the candy corn in for the beak. (I recommend laying the cookie down flat for this step)

And voila!  You can build yourself a whole flock of turkeys!

Gobble gobble gobble!

Happy holidays!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Little Birds

Earlier this year (months ago in fact) I came across this fantastic idea (as well as the pattern) for a little bird mobile and I had to make one: first because I love birds, and second because I might have a few too many fabric scraps laying around.

I started making the birds over the summer and although the first one turned out rather cute, it was gigantic!  I re-printed the pattern in 1/2 size.  Here is the difference I ended up with:

The big bird is about 6 1/2 inches in length while the little one is only about 4 inches.  Much better.

So I made up a bunch of the little birds:

Next I needed to get some sticks for the birds to sit on in the mobile.  Conveniently there was a well timed wind storm and the tree in my front yard dropped a large branch which I cut up into smaller pieces.

After a last minute run to the hardware store and some rummaging through my craft supplies I had everything necessary to start constructing the mobile.

Next I trimmed my sticks down to size:

And started constructing from the bottom up.  The first (lowest) layer was the hardest mainly because I was still trying to get the hang of the balancing everything.  I used some small pebbles to help counter the weight of the sticks and birds. 

And two hours later, here it is!

I used small eye hooks screwed into the sticks to keep them from spinning down.  For the string I used waxed Irish linen thread for its knot holding abilities.   I stitched my birds onto their perches but I also used a dab of hot glue to keep them from spinning.

Happy crafting!

On an unrelated note, I received a new cookbook in the mail today!  Expect goodies soon.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Cooking challenge re-visited

So remember when I posted this?   Well, I finally got around to doing something with that pumpkin!  I found this recipe on NPR that was for stuffed savory pumpkin and had to try it (or, something like it at least).  So I carved up my pumpkin and got to work. 

Here's my pumpkin all cleaned up:

and ready to be cleaned out.

I got all the stuff together that was going into the pumpkin:

To this I also added spices (in unmeasured amounts salt, pepper, Italian spice and nutmeg), some cream and a bit of mozzarella cheese.  I stirred all of the ingredients in a separate bowl and then packed it into the pumpkin.

Then I put the lid on:

and attempted to put it in the oven.  At this point I discovered that it did not actually fit in my oven and I had to cut off the stem.  Not a big loss really as the stem was rather prickly. 

So I was following the recipe which was for a pumpkin about 4 pounds in weight.  My pumpkin was closer to 8 pounds.  So after about 2 1/2 hours of baking at 350 degrees, the pumpkin was perfectly done but the stuffing inside was not.  It was at this point out of desperation and hunger I removed the stuffing and baked it by itself.  Then I re-stuffed it : )  (cheating I'm sure).  But it sure looked nice:

Yum!  Time to eat at last.

This was all well and good for serving but I couldn't very well stick an entire stuffed pumpkin in the fridge, so I took the stuffing out (once again) and scraped out the flesh of the pumpkin:

At last I had an excuse to use my hand blender in order to blend up the pumpkin:

Now I will have to re-visit this pumpkin cooking challenge again.  I think I ended up with something close to 5-6 cups of pumpkin puree.

Sorry for the picture heavy post with a severe lack of actual baking instructions.  I'll be back soon with an update on those little birds.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Molasses Cookies!

So you may have noticed by now that I am rather fond of cookies.  One of my all time favorite types of cookie is the Molasses Cookie.  This past summer I was on a quest of sorts to find my favorite molasses cookie recipe.  After trying several and judging based on right out of the oven as well as keeping for a few days I must say this recipe is going to be my new go-to for soft chewy molasses cookies.

This recipe was sent to me by my step mom (an excellent baker) and its from the King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion.  This is clearly a cookbook I need to add to my repertoire.

Anyways, these cookies are really pretty simple and they are a beautiful example of what I think a molasses cookie should be; chewy and soft, crackled texture on top, spicy but not overwhelming, and they smell incredible.  So on with the recipe!

For Soft Molasses Cookies you need:

1 cup butter (softened)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup molasses
2 eggs
4 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
2 1/4 tsp. baking soda
2 1/2 tsp ginger
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. cloves
sugar in the raw

The first step is to cream the butter and the sugar in a mixing bowl, then beat in the molasses and the eggs.   Next, mix up all the dry ingredients (except for the raw sugar) in a separate bowl, then stir it into the butter mixture.

Refrigerate the dough for 1 hour.

After its chilled, roll the dough into golf ball sized balls and flatten them slightly with your palms.  Dip them into the raw sugar and place them on a cookie sheet.  (The sugar really is a must, it adds so much to the overall texture of the cookie to have that little bit of crunch on top.)

 Here we are with the unbaked cookies.

Bake the cookies for 11-13 minutes at 350 degrees.  They will not be completely browned in this time but if you leave them in longer they won't be chewy. 

And when they come out of the oven you will have these:

Store these cookies in a nice dry place and they should last you for quite a while (permitting you don't eat them all first)!

Plus they are toddler approved:

Happy Baking!