And there is some people thinking that the end is close by

But instead of thinking…they are learning to die. – Bob Dylan

photo (90)

Nothing makes me happier then Sunday baking, having my husband on the couch and Bobby D on the record player. The weather is grim which makes for the perfect cozy Sunday.  Heck, I haven’t even gotten out of my pjs today. Yoga tonight will require a change in attire but that’s a move I’m willing to make.

photo (89)

(we are a mess)

Today I made my final batch of holiday treats before winter break. I haven’t baked for my kids in a couple of weeks because I knew I would be stretched too thin and didn’t want to feel obligated. This week their baked good was listed on the board as “Ms. W’s Holiday Surprise Cookies.” The kids begged and pleaded to hear the ingredients but I stood strong and did not let them know what was in the recipe. I with held information for two reasons. First, they love simplicity (anything complicated scares them) and I knew if I told them that more than one ingredient was int the recipe, they wouldn’t want it. Second, I wasn’t even sure what I was going to make… slick. I knew that I wanted the cookie to have a similar taste to my holiday cookies I made for Stephen’s work but didn’t want to put the same mix ins into the recipe. After scouring the shelved of Trader Joe’s yesterday I came up a FREAKING AWESOME holiday cookie.

Chocolate Peppermint Pretzel Cookies

photo (86)

Makes 40 cookies (smaller cookies)

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1  teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 c chopped chocolate covered pretzel slims
  • 1/2 c peppermint baking chips ( I used Trader Joes but I had seen mint chips at Target)
  • 10 waffle peppermint cane cookies from Trader Joes (if you don’t have a Traders close to you I used crush up 2 candy canes and add more of the pretzels to the mix)
  • Cooking spray or parchment paper

Directions:

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 350°. Beat butter and sugars at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until creamy. Add eggs and 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla, beating until blended.
  2. 2. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl; gradually add to butter mixture, beating just until blended. Beat pretzels, chips, and cookies just until combined. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets.

photo (88)3. Bake at 350° for 8 to 10 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Remove to wire racks, and cool completely (about 15 minutes).

photo (87)

“They taste like Christmas!”

” Chocolately peppermint goodness, 5 stars” – says the husband 🙂

Advertisements

Holiday Work Cheer: Part 1

Stephen has had the honor of working for the United States Trustee over the past two semesters. The staff treated him with such respect and he had such a wonderful time working for the department. He learned a ton and will definitely remember his experience. I wanted Stephen to go out with a bang and say thank you to everyone. Also, holidays are a terrific excuse to bake. Stephen brought to work an assortment of holiday treats and the staff was quite pleased.

UST Holiday Menu

Annie’s Special Cookies (M&Ms, Pretzels, and Whopper Cookies)
Oatmeal Cookies with white cholcoate chips and dried cranberries
Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

Recipes

photo (62)

Annie’s Special Cookies (M&Ms, Pretzels, and Whopper Cookies)

(adapted from myrecipes.com)

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • teaspoon salt
  • 2 cup chopped salted pretzel sticks
  • 1 cup milk chocolate M &Ms (I used the Christmas color ones to add a festive touch!)
  • 1/2 cup of whoppers (they grind up while being mixed)
  • Cooking spray or parchment paper

Directions:

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 350°. Beat butter and sugars at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until creamy. Add eggs and 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla, beating until blended.
  2. 2. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl; gradually add to butter mixture, beating just until blended. Beat M&Ms, pretzel sticks, and whoppers just until combined. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets.
  3. 3. Bake at 350° for 10 to 14 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Remove to wire racks, and cool completely (about 15 minutes).

Oatmeal Cookies with white chocolate chips and dried cranberries

(adapted from Smittenkitten)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (95 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together. Stir this into the butter/sugar mixture. Stir in the oats, cranberries, and chips.

The dough needs to be chilled before baking it. If you do not have a lot of time you can pop the dough into the freezer. If you are going to use the freezer, scoop the dough onto the baking sheets first.

The cookies should be two inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake them for 10 to 12 minutes taking them out when golden at the edges but still a little undercooked-looking on top. Let them sit on the hot baking sheet for five minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool.

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

http://www.fifteenspatulas.com/homemade-peanut-butter-cups/

photo (57)

photo (58)

I am not the best at presentation. Personally I have little patience and am not the best at taking my time to make things look great. In my world if it tastes great who cares if its not perfect. However, I do enjoy presentation… just isn’t my forte. I wanted Stephen to be able to easily transport the goods and excite the crowd with a bit of a presentation. I journeyed to Target (where I have spent TOO much of my time as of late) to try and find a tin to send the cookies in. Much to my dismay, the tins were tiny and $5.00! Talk about exploiting the Christmas spirit. They also had a disposable baskest but I wasn’t sure how large it was and for the price I didn’t want to risk it. After wandering the isles for some time I finally figured out a cute, cheap and easy solution… gift boxes! Target has holiday themed gift boxes for $2.50. I was able to buy two boxes and fit all of the goods with extra room.

photo (56)

Sleepy Sunday

Its cloudy out and 75 degrees, perfect day for bakin’ and makin’! Each Sunday I like to prep my week by making delicious foods that are healthy and will help keep my week stress free. I made my usual granola and started making jam again. Last year I was really into  making jam (check out Jam session), and once again the berries are in season and ready to go! Today I made a standard strawberry jam, per Stephen.

Organic Strawberry Jam

Along the theme of strawberries, I also attempted to make dried strawberries. The recipe called for 2 hours at 210 degrees, but I beg to differ. I left them in the oven for about 4 hours and they are still a bit squishy. However, I think on top of a salad with some balsamic dressing, they will be delicious. I don’t think that’s whats the original chef intended, but I still recommend it.

Half and Quarter strawberries, place them on a cookie sheet in the oven at 210 for 4 hours.

Lastly, I made a treat for my students. In an effort to bring balance and positive vibes  to all (including myself) I have a new management system in my classroom that focuses on positive community building. Each week students strive to earn points (all based on positive choices) and if they meet their goal they can select from 5 prizes. Prizes range from Homework passes to baked goods by me! This week I told them I would make them “Cookie Dough Brownies.” I saw this recipe on Pinterest and have been dying to try it. I love having hungry co-workers and students because I can bake all of the things I want to try, get it out of my house and provide everyone with a delicious treat. For the full recipe check out this site. I have to say, these are phenomenal and so easy to make!

Make the brownie batter first and bake for 30 minutes. It is heavenly.

Prepare cookie dough while brownies bake. There isn't any eggs in the batter, which allows you to enjoy the raw cookie dough without the phantom salmonella lurking over your shoulder!

Once the cookie dough is finished and the brownies cool, spread the cookie dough over the brownies. Then place in the fridge or freezer to allow the two ingredients to combine. Cut once its cold and solid.

Finished product. Absolutely amazing. Deathly though. If you make them... have others eat them ASAP.