Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Cookies and Treats

Even though the holidays are over (except for New Year's!) here is a recap of what I made this Christmas season!

Gingerbread men and gingerbread women cookies, chocolate chip cookies, Christmas tree sugar cookies are just the beginning!

This chex mix was part of the Christmas goodies our neighbors and co-workers received this season.
The recipe can be found on this post.

I could not pass up these Chinese take-out containers from Hobby Lobby.  They were the perfect size and too cute!

I made some more of the chocolate chip drizzle cookies.

Can't forget the Christmas tree cookies!  The recipe for the cookies and icing can be found on this post. 

Last but not least, I made red velvet cupcakes with green buttercream icing! YUM!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies with some flair!

How many of you like to take something ordinary and fancy it up a bit?  You know, give it a little flair.  Well, I do!  And that's exactly what I did to these chocolate chip cookies.  Ok, get ready for this...this was my very first time to make chocolate chip cookies from scratch!  (I can't believe I said that out loud!)  Well, see, the thing is, I love tollhouse cookie dough.  It just seemed so perfect, like nothing could beat it (now I'm not saying that these cookies beat it, but they definitely would give them a run for their money).

I'll give you one guess as to where I got the recipe...yep, that's right, Southern Living.  It's called their "All-time Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies" and I can see why.

Ok, let's get back to the fancying it up a bit.  I just couldn't resist.  Plus, who doesn't love more chocolate?  I just took the left over semi sweet morsels and melted them in a double-boiler (adding some butter to make it smoother).  Using the spoon I was stirring with, I drizzled chocolate over the cookies.  As you can see, I dipped a couple of them half way in chocolate.  Ben personally likes the ones that are covered in chocolate, so I did a couple of those for him (not pictured).  This can be done to oatmeal cookies, sugar cookies, anything really!

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Cheesy Ranch Chex Mix

I found this recipe on the back of the Chex cereal box.  So I guess all of that reading the back of cereal boxes has paid off!

cups Corn Chex®, Rice Chex® or Wheat Chex® cereal (or combination) I used corn and rice Chex
cups bite-size pretzel twists
cups bite-size cheese crackers
tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
package (1 oz) ranch dressing and seasoning mix
 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In large microwavable bowl, mix cereal, pretzels and crackers. In small microwavable bowl, microwave butter uncovered on High about 30 seconds or until melted. Pour over cereal mixture; stir until evenly coated. Stir in dressing mix and cheese until evenly coated.

Microwave uncovered on High 3 minutes, stirring after each minute. Spread on waxed paper or foil to cool. Store in airtight container.

The Chex website has a recipe for everyone, whether you like salty, cheesy, or sweet treats!  This weekend while I'm baking a thousand other things, I think I'll make some puppy chow, too! (p.s. how did this get named "puppy chow"? Not that my dogs wouldn't love to have a treat like this...)

*recipe found here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Last of Christmas Paintings!

Without a doubt in my mind I can say I am burned out on Christmas paintings.  This is not to say that I will never paint similar things again, because I know I will, but perhaps with some colors other than red and green (I'm thinking pink would be a good start).  To finish out the painting season, here are the last few that I did:

Yes, I know this one is not Christmas related, but I couldn't resist!


I hope everyone is enjoying this holiday season as much as I am!  This weekend I'm making tons of cookies, so be on the look out next week!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Monkey Bread!

I am new to monkey bread, although I don't know how I could have missed it my entire life, but I somehow did! 

Here's everything you need:
1 bag of dinner rolls (not buttermilk)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cinnamon
1/2 lb butter
2 tbsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar

I let the dinner rolls thaw since I got them from the freezer section (I placed them in the oven on 100 degrees and let them rise a little, too). This made them easier to pull apart and also fluffier.

Pull the rolls in half. Combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup cinnamon in a medium sized bowl. Roll the dough pieces in this mix. Melt butter and stir in 2 tablespoons of cinnamon (I probably used about 4 tbsp - oops!) and 1/4 cup sugar.  Grease a bundt pan. Place half of the rolls in the bottom and pour half of the butter mixture over it. Place the other half of the rolls on top and pour the rest of the mixture.  If you like your monkey bread to be extra buttery/cinnamon-y, then add a little more butter, sugar, and cinnamon than it calls for. Bake for 30 minutes on 350 degrees.

If I were making this bread for, say, Christmas morning (and we all know how hectic Christmas morning is), I would make the bread the night before and place it in the refrigerator and wait to bake it in the morning.  The bread really tastes best when it's right out of the oven.  Unfortunately, microwaving it is just not the same.

*This recipe is adapted from the one found here.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas Pretzel Treats

At this time of year, (btw, Christmas is only 15 days away!) I find myself in the mood to bake...A LOT!  And while this treat is not something I necessarily had to bake (it did not require going in the oven), it's still adorable, easy, and a great Christmas snack to give to friends and neighbors!

I bought a large container of small pretzel rods (you can use large pretzel rods, too), chocolate bark, and Christmas sprinkles.  Follow the instructions to heat the chocolate. Then it's an easy three step process: 1) dip the pretzels, 2) sprinkle a little dots, and 3)let them dry on wax paper.

Well after I finished all of the pretzel rods, I still had melted chocolate that needed to be used and I am a firm believer in not wasting chocolate.  So what did I do?  I opened a bag of mini pretzels and started dipping!  They are kind of messy looking, but still taste good!

I'm in a group called the Jingle Belles and we are having our annual holiday party to raise money for the Centers for Youth and Families in Little Rock. Check out the website and come to the party if you're in the area!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Catering a Party

Oh my goodness gracious, Ben has officially catered his first party and he's going to be so mad that I'm about to brag about him so much!  However, I'm going to have to start off by saying I have ZERO pictures of the food (boo, I know), but whenever you're cooking/baking it's hard to remember to stop and take pictures (I will try to get better, I promise!). The only picture I have is one of the chocolate chip cookies I made (those will come in a later post).  This post is to give some ideas about what appetizers work well together, because I know during this time of year (Christmas!) there are lots of parties!

Ben was asked to prepare food for about 50 people that were going to a fundraiser.  He did so well!  With a little over a week to get everything together, he started the planning.  Here's a list of foods he made:
In case you weren't counting, that's NINE items!  Whew!  Just listing them makes me hungry!

I was in charge of dessert so I made homemade chocolate cookies with chocolate drizzles and pecan tassies (my new favorite)!

For each item made, I have put a link to a recipe that is similar to the ones Ben used.  This was no easy task and he did a great job!!!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree!

This post should have gone up last weekend whenever I finished decorating my family's Christmas tree,  so sorry for the delay!  I love it, though!  We started the silver and blue theme last year and while we're using the same ornaments this year, it still looks different!  The one thing that is different about the tree this year is the silver mesh-like ribbon that goes all the way down the tree.  I love this stuff.

Lights on!

Lights off!

We have the same thing in green on the mantle, around the banister and outside around the front door.  I'll try to remember to take pictures.  The ribbon is called mesh Sinamay and it can be found at Tipton-Hurst Florist if you're in Central Arkansas or at other online retailers.