Saturday, November 30, 2019
As I usually do in December, I'm hoping and planning to be here in the kitchen every single day. I'll share poems, recipes, maybe devotional thoughts and carols, vintage Christmas things and memories, craft and decorating ideas, gift suggestions, or maybe just my progress through the delightful, busy month of December.
Do plan to stop in, won't you? And be sure and double click on the image at the top of the post. The details are beautiful!
Tuesday, November 19, 2019
I just love making kitchen gifts at Christmas time! You really don't have to read too much here to realize that. There's even a "kitchen gifts" label in the label cloud, and I hope that you will click the label and read further. So many good recipes and wonderful ideas!
This year's kitchen gift list is quite short, but I imagine it may be added to as the weeks go by, since it is still a "tentative" list.
Okay, here goes: the Cinnamon Pretzels are super easy and go nicely in pretty dollar store tins.
Christmas Granola is next in line, and it's so simple. I use my regular formula for Homemade Granola. After it's baked, while still warm, I stir in dried cranberries and shelled pistachios (red and green, get it?) to taste. Voila! Christmas Granola!
Hot Chocolate Mix is next, and this is my own recipe. It always seems to go over well, and sometimes people bring the jars back for a refill.
Bran Muffins sounds like a rather mundane Christmas gift, but I'll explain. Years ago I started giving my mother-in-law containers of Bran Muffin Batter at Christmas. (The first year, I gave her silicone muffin pans as well.) In more recent years, it's become more difficult for my mother-in-law to bake, so I just bake the muffins myself, using the same batter recipe, and give her a half dozen or so. I've also experimented a bit with cutting the sugar in the recipe by about 1/3.
Probably more kitchen gifts are going to make it onto the list. Just as I've been adding photos to this post, I've seen so many fun ideas that I've used in the past. Good thing the list is tentative!
Friday, November 15, 2019
Here's what I wrote to Vicki:
Freezing Christmas cookies is very, very easy. I most often package the cookies in large round tins, but you can use Tupperware containers of any shape or even large plastic containers (with covers) from Walmart or even the dollar store.
I have used all of the above containers at various times (I tend to run out of containers as Christmas draws near and get sort of desperate), and I can honestly say I have never had cookies get freezer burned or lose quality in any other way.
In addition to your containers, you will also want to have a package of waxed paper on hand. Either Cut-Rite or a store brand works fine. Masking tape and a permanent marker are helpful for labeling.
Bake your cookies as usual and cool completely on racks.
(If the cookie has a filling and/or frosting or glaze, be sure that layer is well hardened and firmed up before you package the cookies.)
Line your container with waxed paper. Arrange a layer of cookies in the bottom of the container, then place a piece of waxed paper over that layer and continue layering cookies and waxed paper until the container is full. Place the cover securely on the container.
I then place a piece of masking tape on the cover and write the name of the cookie in Sharpie. I use the tape because I use the same containers over and over and it would be confusing to write the name of the cookies directly on the container lids.
Then place the container of cookies in your freezer. That’s it!
You don’t have to thaw the cookies before placing them on a tray or plate to serve or give. Cookies are small and thaw out very quickly.
Below you see a tin full of whipped shortbread all ready for the freezer once the lid is added.
* This is a no-brainer, seems to me, but only store one type of cookie per tin. You don't want the flavors to get all mixed up.
* Store soft cookies and crisp cookies separately.
* For bar cookies, I cut them in the desired size when completely cool and transfer them to containers with waxed paper as described above.
Vicki also asked me if there were any types of cookies that should not be frozen.
There are no cookies that I know of that should not be frozen. I think if that were the case the recipe might specify.
Yes, you can freeze fudge. What I most often do is cut the fudge first and then I freeze it in foil packages. If I have a square pan of fudge, I’ll cut it and put about 1/4 of the fudge in each little package. If I have more than one layer of fudge in the package, I put a little piece of foil or waxed paper in between the layers. If you like, you could put a number of foil packages inside a ziplock freezer bag. It’s easier to keep track of them that way.
Sometimes I package fudge in small tins, also lined with waxed paper or foil. Every kind of fudge that I have frozen has kept its consistency just fine.
Other candies, like peanut butter balls or the chocolate dipped orange slices, I freeze just as I do cookies in containers with waxed paper.
Another kitchen gift that I bake and freeze ahead is little loaves of quick breads or fruitcakes. After removing these from the loaf pans, I cool them completely on wire racks before wrapping them individually in foil. I will then freeze the little foil-wrapped loaves in either a tin or plastic container or even a large zip-top bag.
When I am ready to gift these little loaves, I wrap them in either colorful foil or food-safe tissue paper and add a little embellishment like ribbon, trim, or baker's twine as pictured below.
There you have some thoughts on freezing Christmas goodies for later. Hope this information is helpful to someone!
Tuesday, November 12, 2019
As I mentioned, on the reverse side of my Christmas cookie baking list I always make two more lists. One of them is the tentative list of Christmas candies I want to make.
I come from a long line of Christmas candy makers. My grandmother loved making the traditional Five-Minute Fudge, and made batches of it at the holidays -- both Christmas and Thanksgiving. My mother, as I've said here many times, was locally famous for her delectable (but difficult) Maple Fudge. (I'm sure you could easily find Five Minute Fudge with an internet search, and Maple Fudge can be found by doing a search here on the blog.)
I tend to make only a few kinds of candy at Christmas time, so my list is quite short.
Here's the list in case you can't read the one at top. I'll include links too, along with a couple of photos.
Arlene’s Easy Fudge
Chocolate Dipped Orange Slices
Date-Nut Casserole Cookies
These date balls I linked to above aren't really a cookie; they are more of a confection. So that's why they're on the candy list rather than the cookie list!
And there you have it! Of course, you never know. I've posted other fudge and candy recipes over the years that I just might be motivated to make for 2019. That's why my lists are tentative! They are subject to change as the season rolls along.
Happy candy making!
Tuesday, November 05, 2019
Often, if it works out for me timewise, I will begin my Christmas cookie baking on the day of our first significant snowfall, which is often before Thanksgiving. Astute New Englanders will quickly grasp the problem with this otherwise charming idea: There are times -- not often, it's true -- but there are those occasional years when we don't get snow until very close to Christmas indeed. So if I held to my "first snowfall" tradition, we might not have any Christmas cookies baked and stored away for gifting! So I usually start sometime in November, definitely before Thanksgiving.
Mr. T is retiring from his logging job mid-December, so he will get to help me this year. He loves baking Christmas cookies!
You may not be able to read that scribbled list, so I will type it out here, adding links to recipes as I can.
🌟Lemon Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies
🌟 Sacher Torte Cookies
🌟 Eggnog Log Cookies
🌟 Whipped Shortbread Cookies
🌟 Chocolate Mint Crisps
🌟Almond Shortbread Thumbprints
🌟 Secret Spice Cookies
🌟Christmas Tree Spritz?