Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Stockings are hung by the chimney (with care)....

And cookies and eggnog are out for Santa...

Have a very very Merry Christmas to all of you, my lovely readers!
The Christmas Spread at my parents' house... I come by my passion for cooking honestly!

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Lunches: 12.21.10 - 12.22.10

Not the most inspired lunches and snacks for the last couple of days before Christmas, but I was busy baking...

Tuesday's snack was a Chobani yogurt and a juice.

Lunch was a baby banana, a cheese sandwich on a mini bagel, raisins, and a couple mini iced sugar cookies.

Wednesday, they had a class brunch party and didn't need snack.  Lunch was cheese sandwiches on fresh pain de mie in a mitten shape and a Christmas tree shape, raisins, a baby banana, and a couple mini iced sugar cookies.

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Lunch: 12.20.10

Happy Monday!

For snack, I packed an apple with nutella, and a juice.

For lunch, she has a mini whole wheat bagel with cheddar cheese, a baby banana (I found them at the store - aren't they adorable?), raisins, some homemade cheese crackers, and a couple mini sugar cookies from our cookie decorating party this past weekend.

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Recipe: Eggnog Sugar Cookies

Yes, I made more sugar cookies.

Yes, I have perhaps lost my mind.

But, I have all of this extra royal icing and flood icing in my fridge... I didn't want to throw it ALL out.  Plus, I got some sweet ornament cookie cutters...

So, I used the same recipe (Bake at 350's Sugar Cookie Recipe), and instead of vanilla and almond extracts, I used rum extract (1 tsp), a tiny bit of almond extract (1/4 tsp) and nutmeg (1/4 tsp).  Voila - Eggnog Sugar Cookies.  It's a rather subtle flavor, so if you want it to be a really eggnog-y flavor, you should use more rum extract.  And heck, you could go crazy and thin the royal icing with rum to make flood icing.

I promise I won't tell.  And I think it would work..

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sugar Cookie Decorating Party!

I was inspired by Pioneer Woman and Bake at 350...

So, I had a Sugar Cookie Decorating Party.  Full pictures are up on my Facebook Page.

It took a while, but that was probably because I went nuts and made about 10 dozen cookies. 
Some of the finished cookies
I used Bake at 350's Sugar Cookie recipe, and her technique for royal icing outlines and flood icing inside.   I did not have any meringue powder, so I used pasteurized egg whites (from a carton, like Eggbeaters, but just whites), and Joy of Baking's recipe.
Transferring the flood option to a bottle
For the royal icing (piping and outlines), I used pastry bags with couplers and a small plain tip (#3).  For the flood icing, I used squirt bottles.
I made some mini cookies, too!  This should surprise no one
It was a complete blast and we have decided it needs to happen again next year for sure!

And, look at the great Rudolf that The Girl made all by herself!

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Friday, December 17, 2010

Lunches: 12.15.10 - 12.17.10

It's been a crazy week, and I have been packing lunches, but haven't had a chance to post them, so here's Wednesday's through Friday's.

Snack each day was a pomegranate Chobani yogurt and a juice.  I don't think you need a picture of that particularly.

Lunch on Wednesday was the last of the winter shaped pasta, applesauce, and some cheese crackers.

Lunch on Thursday was a (store bought) mini whole wheat bagel with cheese, carrots with ranch, a clementine, and granola bar.

Lunch today is a mini whole wheat bagel with cheese, some animal crackers, a chai spiced cake, and a clementine.  Not the healthiest lunch, but it's Friday and I need to go shopping.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Lunch: 12.14.10

Snack today is some pomegranate Chobani (I *won* a case on FB just for being a fan!) and a juice.

Lunch is the same as yesterday, because she gobbled it all up.  Winter shaped pasta with parmesan cheese, applesauce, homemade cheese crackers, and some Santa Hat shaped cheddar cheese.

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Lunch: 12.13.10

Snack today is apple pieces with nutella and a juice.

Lunch is winter shaped pasta with parmesan cheese, applesauce, homemade cheese crackers, and cheddar cheese stars.

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Recipe: Swedish St. Lucia Saffron Rolls (Lussekatter)

Tomorrow, December 13th, is a Swedish holiday, St. Lucia's Day.

I hold a special place in my heart for any holiday that involves two of my favorite things - special baked goods, and singing.  (Here's a video of the song!)

These rolls, called "Lussekatter" in Swedish (Lucia Cats) are a wonderful slightly sweet bread, made with saffron.  Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world, but you only need a little.  Don't leave it out.  Without it, these are not lussekatter.

Traditionally, a daughter of the family, usually the eldest, serves these rolls, dressed in white, with candles in her hair.

I skip the candles, and the Girl has not yet begun serving us.  Maybe next year.  You can also go a safer route and use battery operated electric candles in a crown.  That's an option.  Less wax in your hair.

My instructions are to make the dough in the bread machine.  I actually made the dough yesterday and let it rise in the fridge overnight.  This worked just fine.
Last night, including hand print.
This morning
Kids like to help shape them.

Swedish St. Lucia Saffron Rolls (Lussekatter)

1 c milk, slightly warmed
1/2 tsp crushed saffron
1/3 c melted butter
1 egg
1/3 c sugar
3 1/2 c flour
5 tsp yeast

Add saffron to the milk and allow to soak for a couple of minutes.

Place in the bread machine along with other ingredients, in the order suggested by your machine.  (Mine wants liquids first, then dry ingredients, with yeast last of all).  Set to dough cycle and allow to complete cycle (this usually takes about an hour and a half)

Pinch off small pieces of dough and roll into thin ropes about 8-10" long.  Coil half one way, and half the other to form an S-shape.  (Pinch ears if you like.  My kids liked).

Allow to rise for about 45 minutes, and then bake at 400 F for 10 minutes, or until golden brown.  Can be iced if you insist, but it's not necessary.  You can also put raisins in the center of each coil if desired.

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Recipe: Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies

The simple chocolate chip cookie is not always as simple as it sounds.  I saw this recipe from Moms Who Think, for Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies, and I decided to put my own spin on it.

I happened to have some dark chocolate chips leftover from my Homemade Peppermint Patties, and some white chocolate chips leftover from my Candy Cane Hearts, and some semisweet chocolate chips from my Chocolate Fudge Pomegranate Cookies, so I used them all in these cookies.

Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 c butter, melted
1/4 c granulated sugar
1 1/4 c packed light brown sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 c plus 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 c total chocolate chips - a mixture of dark, semisweet, and white is what I used
Preheat oven to 375ยบ.  Cream together butter, vanilla, sugars, and eggs. Stir in flour, salt, and baking soda.  Fold in chocolate chips.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheet 2 inches apart.   Bake about 10 to 12 minutes. Cool 1 to 2 minutes then finish cooling on wire rack.

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Recipe: Candy Cane Hearts

I saw this idea on a Norwegian blog that I follow, and thought it was adorable.  I don't really like candy canes, but the rest of my family does, so I thought I would make a few to share.

It's really very simple.  Arrange two mini candy canes into a heart shape on top of parchment paper. Pipe the centers full with melted chocolate, white chocolate, or colored candy disks.  Allow to solidify, then turn them over and they are done.

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Lunch: 12.10.10

Happy Friday!

The girl has instant oatmeal for snack (I give her a thermos of hot water and she stirs in the packet), and a juice.

Lunch is some more winter shaped tri-color pasta with some grated cheese, some apple slices, a couple chocolate dipped animal graham crackers, and some Christmas cheese shaped cheddar cheese.  I really want some Americolor pens, because I've heard they are much better than the Wilton ones.  The Wilton pens don't color (for me) for long.. The first drawing is nice, and then the next fails... boo.

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Gift Idea for the Lunch Packer: Kid's Cooking

This is  a series of posts I'm going to do about good gift ideas for the lunch packer - or for the follower of my blog.

I want to disclose that I am an Amazon Affliliate, and the links I post are my affiliate links.

I know I'm always looking for things to get my kids for Christmas, and in my mind, there is little better gift for  kids than teaching them how to cook and bake at a young age.

There are some really cool tools available that make cooking fun for kids.  Some of these are going to be under our own tree!

For baking, this Sassafrass kit is really neat - it includes measuring cups & spoons. wooden spoon. rolling pin, spatula, melon baller, pastry scraper, and an... herb pot?  Ok, so that's a little weird, but it could be used as a mixing bowl.

This Playful Chef set is also a baking set, and it includes an apron, measuring cups and spoons, some cookie cutters, and some other great tools.

If your child wants to bake, don't bother with the Easy Bake. Get them slightly smaller sizes of high quality, Nordic Ware bakeware.

For a child who is a little more advanced, this Kuhn Rikon Kinderkitchen Set is really fantastic.  They are a good company that makes good products.  You can get the components of this set separately, too.  They are adorable.  The starter knife is dog shaped, with or without teeth.  I have held this knife, and I bet you could cut yourself if you really were determined to, it would take some doing.  (But it would still cut ingredients... granted, not as well as a real chef knife, but I wouldn't hand The Girl my beloved Wusthof Santoku and tell her to have at it).

Another couple tools in the set are mouse measuring cup set and Goldfish measuring spoons.  Be still my heart.  So sweet!  Kuhn Rikon also makes some kid-friendly tongs - Crocodile jaws!  They would also work as toaster tongs, which The Girl likes to use.

For whisking fun (oh, how The Girl love whisking!), this rainbow whisk is a winner.  It's coated in silicone, so you can use it with nonstick pans, too.

Happy Holidays!

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Lunch: 12.9.10

Snack is some strawberry banana juice jigglers and some apples with juice.

Lunch is some winter shaped tri-color pasta that I found (with some parmesan cheese), some homemade cheese crackers, candy cane shaped cheddar cheese, fruit salad, and some chocolate dipped animal grahams (I got them on sale and they were adorable).

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Gift Idea for the Lunch Packer: Pressure Cooker

This is  a series of posts I'm going to do about good gift ideas for the lunch packer - or for the follower of my blog.

I want to disclose that I am an Amazon Affliliate, and the links I post are my affiliate links.

A great way to spend less time in the kitchen, and still end up with "You must have slaved over this all day" flavor, is a pressure cooker.

My mother-in-law got me this fantastic Cuisinart Pressure Cooker for Christmas last year, and I couldn't be happier with it.  I was always scared of pressure cookers before.  I'd heard horror stories about pressure cookers back in the day blowing up and injuring people.

This one won't do that - it's electric and has all sorts of safeguards.  If the pressure valve isn't right, it will simply turn itself off.

You can make soup in it in minutes.  You can cook beans from dry to soft and delicious quickly.  It also has a browning function, a simmer function, a saute function.. it's really versatile.
Not sure what to do with the pressure cooker?  There are a lot of books available.  This one looks particularly nice.

Happy Holidays!

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