Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy End of 2011!! Sam's Cookie Swap Cookbook

Can’t believe this year is already over!  It went by so fast for me, and the end got so very busy!!  I didn’t do a lot for Christmas this year because of well, life… but I did manage to host a small Cookie Swap for some close family and friends!  For once I actually managed to not hold a camera to my face, and didn’t take a single picture during the swap, a good thing for me this year to just chat it up with people I don’t always get to see that often.  We talked, ate, drank and at the end, exchanged the cookies we all made.  We each ended up with an assortment of 13 kinds of cookies, and they were all delish!!  Here are the recipes so you can feel free to enjoy them yourself!!  *BONUS* My Mom’s home-made cider recipe follows at the bottom, we went through a full 2 gallons at the party, if that is any indication to how good it is. J 

My contribution: Chocolate Caramel Cookies with Sea Salt
Courtesy of Two Peas and Their Pod
Check out their whole website for more great recipes!!
Yield: 2 dozen cookies
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons butter
7 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa (I used dark cocoa)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Soft caramel, rolled into little balls (I used just your regular old square wrapped caramels, she suggests using Peter’s Caramel)
Sea salt

Preheat oven to 350ºF; line 2 baking sheets with baking paper, lightly coated with cooking spray. I used Silpats! Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Sift together flour, soda, and salt; set aside.
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat; stir in cocoa powder and sugars (mixture will resemble coarse sand). Add yogurt and vanilla, stirring to combine. Add flour mixture, stirring until moist. Wrap the chocolate dough around the caramel balls. Place balls on cookie sheets and sprinkle with sea salt.
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until almost set. Cool on pans 2 to 3 minutes or until firm. Remove cookies from pans; cool on wire racks.

Sammantha’s Contribution: Peppermint Pinwheel Cookies
Courtesy of
Recipe (actual cookies):
Yield: 4 Dozen Cookies
½ cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon red food coloring paste
Parchment paper
Peppermint Frosting (Recipe follows)

Beat butter at medium speed with a heavy duty electric stand mixer until creamy; gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla, beating until blended, scraping bowl as needed.
Combine flour, baking soda, and salt; gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating at low speed until blended.
Divide dough into 2 equal portions.  Roll 1 portion of dough into a 12x8 inch rectangle on a piece of lightly floured plastic wrap.
Knead food color paste into remaining portion of dough while wearing rubber gloves.  Roll tinted dough into a rectangle as directed in Step 3.  Invert untinted dough onto tinted dough; peel off plastic wrap. Cut dough in half lengthwise, forming 2 (12x4inch) rectangles.  Roll up each rectangle, jelly roll fashion, starting at 1 long side, using bottom piece of plastic wrap as a guide.  Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze 4 hours or up to 1 month.
Preheat oven to 350F.  Cut ends off each dough log, and discard.  Cut dough into ¼ inch thick pieces, and place on parchment lined baking sheets.
Bake at 350F for 6 to 7 minutes or until puffed and set; cool cookies on baking sheets 5 minutes.  Remove to wire racks and cool completely (about 30 minutes).
Place Peppermint Frosting in a heavy-duty ziplock freezer bag.  Snip 1 corner of bag to make a small hole.  Pipe about 2 tsp frosting onto half of cookies.  Top with remaining cookies, gently pressing to form a sandwich.

Recipe (Peppermint Frosting):
Yield: Makes 1 ¾ cups
¼ cup butter, softened
1 (3oz) package cream cheese, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract

Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.  Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until blended.  Increase speed to medium, and gradually add milk and peppermint extract, beating until smooth.

Susan’s Contribution: Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies with Mint
Courtesy of Paula Deen
Yield: 2 dozen cookies
1 (8oz) brick cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (18oz) box moist chocolate cake mix
2/3 cup crème de mint (andes) mint chocolate bits
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350F.
In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream the cream cheese and butter until smooth.  Beat in the egg.  Then beat in the vanilla extract.  Beat in the cake mix.  Mix in mint bits.  Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours to firm up so that you can roll the batter into balls.  Roll the chilled batter into tablespoon sized balls and then roll them in confectioners’ sugar.  Place on an ungreased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart.  Bake 12 minutes.  The cookies will remain soft and “gooey” Cool completely and sprinkle with more confectioners’ sugar if desired.

Maryfe’s Contribution: Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yields: 60 cookies
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs

PREHEAT oven to 375° F.
COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Gail’s Contribution (yes, My Mom): Roll out Cookies Decorated
Recipe edited in by Gail -- I found it!
White Rolled Cookies for Decorating
Note: this dough is fairly bland and not too sweet. It is meant to balance the sweetness of frosting and candy decorations. Cookies are not fragile.

Cream together:
1/2 c. margarine, butter
1 c. sugar
Add and beat well:
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
Sift together and combine into wet mixture:
2 1/2 c. flour
1/4 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp salt

Optional: form into a 1” thick saucer-sized patty; chill for 30 minutes to 2 days wrapped tightly in plastic. Dough can be frozen; let come to almost room temp before using.

If dough has been chilled, remove from frig and gently work dough patty with fingers to loosen up the butter. Unwrap.  Place dough patty on a well floured surface; sprinkle top with flour and then rub off. Pick up patty, reflour surface, place it down upside down. Flour and rub off this side. Gently roll out dough from the center outward with a floured rolling pin. Prevent edges tearing by frequently pressing them inward and mending small tears. If dough seems to be sticking, lift edges and reflour surface underneath. Roll to the approximate thickness of an uncooked Kraft macaroni noodle, about 1/8”. J don’t get too technical! If thicker, your cookies will be cakier and take longer to bake. If thinner, your cookies will be crisper and bake more quickly.

Cut cookies with cookie cutters, flouring cutter after each cut. Place 1”-2” apart on an ungreased, cool cookie sheet – they will not spread. If cookie does not lift out with cutter, wait until all are cut, remove scrap dough, and lift cookies with spatula. Scraps, with excess flour brushed off, can be re-rolled once. These cookies will be tougher and drier.

Bake at 375 degrees until edges just begin to turn color. Cool 5 min on pan; remove to cooling rack gently using a spatula.  It is best to bake similar-sized cookies on the same sheet, or put smaller cookies in the center of sheet. Check for doneness every 2 minutes starting at 5 min for small cookies, 8 min for hand-sized cookies. It all depends on your butter/margarine, exact oven temp, thickness of dough, and size of cookie.

Before baking, cookies can be sprinkled with colored sugars; press in lightly.

After baking and cooling, decorate with your favorite frosting and edible decorations.
Easy frosting to color: 1 c. butter, 1 lb box powdered sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 Tbsp water; mix until it all comes together then blend in enough more water to make it easily spreadable or to use in frosting bag with round and star tips. Color with gel or paste food coloring (green, red-no-taste, blue, yellow, and white are good at Christmas). Decorations: all kinds of sprinkles and colored sugar, mini chocolate chips, red hots, snips of dried fruit or fruit roll ups, crushed peppermint candy,  string licorice, Wilton Fondant Writers, Wilton Cookie Icing, colored gel icing although this does remain sticky… use your imagination!

Randal’s Contribution: Creamy Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

Yield: 24-36 Bars
Crust -
8 graham crackers (calls for 8 medium sized butter or chocolate chip cookies)
1/4 cup salted butter, melted

Chocolate Layers -
2 1/2 cups (15 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Peanut Butter Filling -
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter (Peanut Butter & Co. Peanut Butter, White Chocolate Wonderful - can be found at QFC & Whole Foods)
1/2 cup salted peanut butter, softened
3 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Directions :
Preheat oven to 325 F
In a food processor or blender process the graham crackers until finely chopped, then add melted butter and mix together completely. Press crumb mixture into a 8 x 8 inch metal baking pan and bake 10-12 minutes. Let the crust cool completely.
Melt chocolate in double boiler over slightly simmering water, or microwave the chocolate, stirring every 30 seconds until the chocolate is completely melted. Pour half the melted chocolate into the pan and smooth chocolate over crust. Place pan in refrigerator. Keep remaining chocolate warm.
To prepare the peanut butter filling, blend peanut butter and softened butter together until smooth, using a food processor or electric mixer. Slowly beat in confectioner's sugar and then add vanilla. Beat until mixture is smooth. Spread peanut butter filling over chilled chocolate pan. Finish by pouring remaining warm chocolate over filling until smooth. Chill in refrigerator one hour or until firm. Then cut into bars and serve.


Becca’s Contribution: Peanut Blossom Cookies
Yield: About 36 Cookies
1/2 cup butter (or margarine or shortening)
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp soda
1/2 tsp salt
extra sugar
36 chocolate kisses (more or less, depeding on if you make cookies larger or smaller)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Beat butter and peanut butter until
fluffy. Add sugars, beat well. Add eggs and vanilla. Stir together dry
ingredients and add well to mixture. Roll into small 1" balls, literally walnut size. Roll in sugar.
Bake 8 minutes. Immediately press a
chocolate kiss down into center of each cookie. Return to oven for 2-5 min to finish baking cookie. Cool on wire rack.
Tip: at the holidays, add a bit of colored sugar to the sugar you roll the dough in.

Jennifer and Meagan’s Contribution (1of2): Almond Roca Bars
Yield: 1 pan to cut into bars
1 cup softened butter
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla or almond extract
2 cups flour
Pinch of salt
1 package chocolate chips
Slivered almonds (opt)

Cream butter, sugar, egg yolk, and vanilla
Add flour and salt
Pat mixture into jelly roll pan
Bake for 15 minutes at 350F
Sprinkle choc chips and put back in oven until shiny – spread with spatula
Top with almonds if desired

Holly’s Contribution: Salted Honey Lavender Shortbread
Yield: 1 8x8 pan
1 ½ cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
¾ cup butter
1 tsp lavender
½ teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons honey
1 tsp salt
½ tsp flake sea salt

Preheat oven to 350F
Mix all ingredients except sea salt until smooth
Line 8x8 pan with parchment paper leaving a 3inch overhang on each side.  Spray with Pam.
Dock dough with a fork
Bake 35-40 minutes
Sprinkle sea salt over top

Jennifer and Meagan’s Contribution (2of2): Jam Jumbles
Yield: 1 9x13 pan
1 cup melted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 ½ cup flour
3 cups oatmeal
½ teaspoon baking soda
10-14oz jam

Stir together butter, brown sugar, and oatmeal
Add flour and baking soda
Reserve 1 cup of mixture and pat rest into 9x13 pan
Spread jam onto mixture leaving ½ inch around edges
Top with rest of mixture
Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes

Dani’s Contribution: Peppermint Meltaways
Yield: 3 ½ dozen
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch

2 tablespoons butter, softened
1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons 2% milk
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 to 3 drops red food coloring, optional
1/2 cup crushed peppermint candies

In a small bowl, cream butter and confectioners' sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in extract. Combine flour and cornstarch; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.
Shape into 1-in. balls. Place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.
In a small bowl, beat butter until fluffy. Add the confectioners’ sugar, milk, extract and food coloring if desired; beat until smooth. Spread over cooled cookies; sprinkle with crushed candies. Store in an airtight container. Yield: 3-1/2 dozen.

Dani’s Variation: (If I remember correctly) Cookies became crumbly, so she mixed with some frosting and formed balls, and then drizzled with the peppermint frosting. 

Diane’s Contribution (1of2): Pizzelle
Courtesy of her Grandma, Dominica DiCecco
Yield: 6 dozen
6 eggs
1 ½ cup sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons crushed anise seed

With a large standing mixer, beat eggs and sugar; add oil and mix well.  Combine flour and baking powder.  Add to egg mixture.  Add anise seed.
Drop teaspoons of batter onto a hot pizzelle iron.  Each takes 30-40 seconds.  You may need to grease the iron occasionally.  Remove and cool on a wire rack.

Diane’s Contribution (2of2): Date Meringue Cookies
Courtesy of her Mother, Julie Norris
Yield: 4 dozen
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
3 egg whites, room temperature
1 ¾ cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon flour
2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
1 cup chopped dates (I cut them with scissors)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Add salt and cream of tartar to egg whites.  Beat to a stiff foam.  Sift sugar and flour together.  Add to egg whites one tablespoon at a time.  Continue beating until stiff, about 5 minutes.  Fold in nuts, dates, and vanilla.  Drop teaspoons of batter onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  The parchment is a must as these will stick to a bare pan.  Do not grease the parchment.
Bake 300F for 24-30 minutes.  Watch closely and don’t let them get brown, except on the edges.  Cool slightly on the pans before removing.

OK!!  I thought I was cookied out, but after re-reading all these recipes there might be some more in my near future after all!  And of course to go with them, My Mom’s cider recipe:

2 qts apple cider
1/4 c. brown sugar
6" total cinnamon stick
20 cloves
15 allspice berries
scant 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Bring all to a light boil, reduce heat and keep just under a simmer for at least an hour. Spices can be placed in a tea ball or spice bag if desired. Chill and reheat leftovers

Hope these recipes fulfill any 2011 cookie dreams you might have had, I know they certainly made my last couple of weeks delicious!

Happy New Year, and stay tuned, because Mom and I have a plan 2Create in full and SHARE it with you more frequently!!


Monday, December 12, 2011

We 2 are still being creative. Really. {Gail}

We're being SO creative that we have SO many projects going on that we aren't really... well, finishing stuff! OK, maybe a few things -- Sam got her awesome purple crocheted blanket finished; I did another hat and fixed an old one (knit, crochet baby hats for her prop box).

I made a gift basket for a charity auction and got crafty with a couple of tags and a recipe folder, but it went out of the house unphotographed! Dang!

One of my resolutions for the New Year -- yes, I'm making them already! -- is to participate in TAST: Take A Stitch Tuesday.   TAST 2012 Challenge home page  I am a wanna-be Crazy Quilter and although I already know how to do normal embroidery, doing it on Crazy Quilting involves other considerations. Can't wait to get started!

Another resolution for myself is to master sewing knits. I just avoid it as much as possible now, but that's because I don't know all the secrets to make it easy. Not sure how creative I'll be; sounds like my 2 daughters have huge wardrobe expectations from my knit-sewing-skills-to-be! I'll be a knit clothing factory, no creativity at all. ;)  We'll see.

3 weeks until the New Year! What will YOU be creating in 2012?