Holiday Work Cheer: Part 2

Today was hours and hours of baking and prepping for work! One of my precious students came over to help me bake. While she was here we made an assortment of goods for my co-workers and for her family. I didn’t get to snap pictures of all of the treats but I did for the majority of what I am giving out for my holiday work gifts. My student has never had the opportunity to make Christmas cookies so I felt we must undo this wrong and decorate sugar cookies! I also taught her how to make basic chocolate chip cookies. We added some M&Ms for festive coloring. We also made some white chocolate peppermint Oreo bark, nom nom!

The past two years I made labor intensive gifts for my co-workers but this year due to time constraints and money I wanted something simple, affordable and delicious. I decided on Oreo bark and I am quite pleased with my choice! I purchased the items at Aldi and the total for the goods was around $6.00. I was able to make 16 gifts which means each bag cost .37… not too shabby!  I made Christmas colored bark for the majority of the staff and Hanukkah bark for my beloved tribe members. I recently received a wonderful Star of David mold* and was able to use it to craft the Hanukkah bark.

*I can not find the exact mold online but this quite close.

Hanukkah Oreo Bark

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Christmas Oreo Bark

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Ingredients:

  • 1 package of oreos
  • 1 package of white chocolate almond bark
  • 1 package of white chocolate morsels

Directions:

Prepare tray with parchment paper. Place oreos in a gallon ziplock bag and role with a rolling pin. Melt white chocolate in microwave safe dish at 25 second intervals. (If you want to use a double broiler feel free I just don’t have the patience) When the chocolate has almost completed melted, mix in food coloring. When the chocolate is completely melted mix the oreo pieces into the gooey greatness. Spread the mixture over the tray and place in fridge or freezer depending on the time. Once the mixture has hardened break into pieces and serve.

After bark making we made some sugar cookies and did some cheesey decorating. Nothing says Christmas and Hanukkah like sugar cookies!

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My cookies!

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Decorating.

photo (72)My dear student’s cookies

Also, my wonderful husband bought me this awesome cook book  for the second night of Hanukkah and I can’t wait to try out some of the recipes.

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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

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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/

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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.

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Hanukkah, done right!

“Ya know I hate this time of year… they got ALL the Christmas stuff on sale. All we got is this lousy kiosk… oh and don’t even get me started on the prices. Of course it’s the most expensive thing in the store.”- Old Jewish Woman at Michael’s craft store

While this quote is incredible and perfect for multiple reasons (mainly I love the whining), the woman has a point. Hanukkah decorations are definitely hard to come by and when you do finally find them, they are usually pretty ugly.  This year I decided to take Hanukkah into my own hands and make some of my own decorations because I wanted to celebrate the 8 days with a bit of style.  With a little inspiration, scrap book paper, and Matisyahu I am pretty satisfied with our decorations!

I try to keep our blackboard up to date.


We are trying to transition our tree to blue and silver. Right now we only have silver balls. However, I am a complete sucker for big vintage bulbs. “Happy Hanukkah” banner is from Target (2.99).

Dreidel Banner: Scrap book paper, twine, scissors, tape

I drew the dreidels and letters free hand. You can easily make stencils by printing images off the computer. I selected a variety of paper with blue hues. I taped the tips of the dreidels to twine and hung the banner with tape. I covered the tape with cut out Stars of David.

Paper:

  • dark glittery blue
  • blue and white polka dots
  • white and blue snowflakes

Center Piece: clear vase, gelt, dove chocolates, silver ornaments

Hanukkah Party

I also tried to make some Hanukkah themed food! And of course… a Jewbread house building competition!

Menu:

(See below pictures for recipes)

Cranberry Bliss Bars (Starbucks knock offs)

Latke

Assorted Cheese

Chocolate Dreidels

Glogg

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The Spread

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Cranberry Bliss Bars- heavenly

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Chocolate Dreidels

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Cheese

Image (2)Hard at work on our houses!

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Thank you Geltfiend for making an awesome Hanukkah sweater!

Recipes:

Cranberry Bliss Bars

http://www.food.com/recipe/cranberry-bliss-bars-starbucks-copycat-203229/photo

Latkes:

  • 6 eggs (whipped)
  • Trader Joes frozen hash browns (3/4 of bag)
  • 3 tbs grated onion
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 3 tbs salt

Beat eggs by itself and then mix all ingredients together. Heat peanut oil on high and fry patties until golden brown. Serve with ketchup  sour cream and apple sauce.

Chocolate Dreidels:

Break pretzel stick and inset into marshmallow. Melt milk chocolate chips (microwave slowly, dont burn!). Take a bit of the melted chocolate and use it to adhere the hershey kiss to the bottom of the marshmallow. Drip dreidels in melt chocolate and viola!

Vegetarian Holidays

I love the holidays! Let’s be real, I love the holidays because I LOVE cooking! The holidays are like the super bowl for me. This past week we had the in laws in town for Thanksgiving. Despite only having four people at our dinner table, I prepared enough food for 8 (or 10 :)).  I used pinterest to help me put my menu together and the results were a hit. I have compiled our menu here. Heck, I might make most of this again for Christmas. I believe vegetarians need to stick together and share all of the resources we can! *Most of these can be made vegan with Earth Balance.

Final Menu:

Main Course

Seitan Roulade with Chestnut Stuffing
Mushroom Gravy
Shiitake Mushroom and Greens Beans
Hazelnut infused butter with brussel sprouts
Rosemary and parmesan biscuits
Cranberry stuffing
Roasted butternut squash with rosemary and gargonzola
Mashed Potatoes
Cranberry Sauce

Dessert

Pumpkin Pie
Apple Pie Crumble
Chocolate Pie

*Please note there is Turkey in this picture. Also note, I wasn’t super excited.

Seitan Roulade

Unlike years past I wanted to make a hearty meat substitute for Stephen and I. Last year I spotted Vegan Yum Yum’s Seitan Roulade , however I was always a little nervous to actually make them. This year I mustered enough courage and prepared this delightful dish. I am quite pleased with the results. The roulade is hearty, warm, and delicious. We also had the recommended mushroom gravy on Vegan Yum Yum. So delicious!

Side Dishes

Biscuts:  http://www.skinnytaste.com/2011/11/easy-rosemary-garlic-parmesan-biscuits.html

Butternut Squash: http://www.kalynskitchen.com/2009/11/recipe-for-roasted-butternut-squash.html

Brussel Sprouts: http://cookandbemerry.com/brussels-sprouts-with-hazelnut-butter/

Green Beans: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Green-Beans-with-Shiitake-Mushrooms-105815

Cranberry sauce and Mashed Potatoes- pretty standard and classic …

Cranberry Stuffing- Whole Food 365 Organic

Desserts:

Apple Pie Crumble http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/apple-crumble-pie/detail.aspx

Pumpkin Pie http://www.myrecipes.com/special-diet/diabetic-recipes/diabetic-desserts-00420000001200/page6.html

Chocolate Pie= Stephen’s Mom’s secret recipe.

Bon Apetit