Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Drop Sugar Cookies

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...as it should, I suppose, since it is, in fact, Christmas Eve.

When I was a kid I would go to my Godmother's house to bake cookies with her for Christmas. I always loved baking with her because she always did "fancy" stuff. Also, because she actually let me help, unlike when I baked with my mom, who let me help by cleaning (although I did get to lick the beaters).

I carried the tradition on myself for years, but it's been quite some time since I've spent the day baking a billion cookies and making deliveries to friends and family. I had wanted to reignite the tradition this year with some friends, but it didn't work on account of being an adult is busy. Hopefully next year!

One of the most common Christmas cookie (as far as I'm concerned) is the sugar cookie so I decided I would at the very least make these for the holidays. Seeing as though I thought they were so popular, I was shocked to find that there wasn't a single sugar cookie recipe in any of my four of my high altitude baking books. Thankfully, the interwebs exist and I was able to find a very awesome recipe. I chose drop cookies instead of the cute cooking cutter type cookies because I've never really had much luck with them (but maybe I'll try again, one of these days.

These cookies were really simple and very delicious. Hubby doesn't want me to make these again because he couldn't stop eating them.

Drop Sugar Cookies

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup butter, cut into pieces
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
colored sugar

Preheat oven to 350.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine flour, salt, baking powder and nutmeg in a small bowl. In a mixer, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until smooth. Slowly add flour mixture, a little at a time, until everything is well combined.

Set aside for 15 minutes.

Roll into 1-inch size balls. Roll top in colored sugar and flatten a bit. Place 1 1/2 inches apart on baking sheet.

Bake 10-12 minutes.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Spiced Pumpkin Bars

I've been saving posting about these because they have kind-of been my secret weapon. I've been told by more than one person that these are the best thing in my arsenal of goodies. One friend had this to say, "I want you to make these every week. I don't care if it's summer."

On a side note, when I bake my kitten/cat (I'm not sure what he is at the point, he's like 6ish months) has learned that I'm a klutz and will most likely spill something at sometime, so he has started to take residence at my feet hoping to hit pay dirt (he usually does).
His name is NOT Starbucks, because he was named after the most delicious coffee maker in the world. Burn.

Back to my ace in the hole...the bar part is very quick and easy to make but I find the icing to be a little cumbersome, but I think that's mostly because I don't like have to stand over the stove stirring. I may bake, but I certainly prefer easier recipes. But this one is so good I'm willing to suck it up and be a "real" baker. Sometimes the icing get a little sticky and hard to manage, so you need to be quick about getting it on the bars or you'll have a mess to deal with.

I got this recipe from my ever handy favorite baking book.

Spiced Pumpkin Bars

1 2/3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin puree

Preheat oven to 375.

Combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and ginger in a bowl. In a mixer, combine sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla and pumpkin. Add flour mixture a little at a time, until everything is mixed well. Spread batter into a greased 9x13 inch glass baking dish. Bake for 15-20. Cool slightly and then add spiced frosting (recipe to follow). Once completely cooled, cut into bars and remove from pan.

Spice Frosting

1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sifted powder sugar

Combine sugar, butter, milk, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in a saucepan. Cook on medium-low heat and stir constantly. Once mixture bubbles, remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Slowly beat in powdered sugar until mixture is a spreading consistency. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Lemon Basil Chicken

Mark this recipe under the category of "shit I came up with by looking at what I already had available in my kitchen." It has been snowy and extremely cold this week in Denver and besides making the drive to and from work, I haven't been stopping anywhere along the way (I usually run errands on my way home from work) because I'm trying to reduce the possibility of getting into an accident. Also, it's ridic cold and I don't want to get out of my car more often than is completely necessary.
Note: not an actual photo of what Denver looks like right now
I had defrosted some chicken from the freezer and hadn't prepped/marinated it in anything and was about to just bake in plain but I just couldn't bring myself to do that. I opened the fridge and looked at what was in there and then hit up the spice rack/cabinet. The following was what I was able to come up with. I was pleasantly very surprised at how well this turned out.

Lemon Basil Chicken

2 chicken breasts
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 teaspoons shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350.

Cut fat off chicken and place in a glass dish. Cover with lemon juice. Sprinkle on garlic salt, basil and cheese. Bake for 30 minutes.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Pumpkin Bacon Cookies

Because of course this had to happen. How could I not combine my two favorite things to bake with - pumpkin and bacon?

I was baking a few things for a Halloween party (yes, I am super behind on posts, I don't need you to remind me!) and wanted to do something a little fun and different (and delicious).

Speaking of the Halloween party, check out the awesome pumpkins we carved. Can you guess which one is mine?

I have two types of pumpkin cookie recipe that I could use for a base: Frosted Pumpkin and Oatmeal Pumpkin Chocolate Chip. The former is more cake-like and I really wanted to make cookies so I decided to modify the latter (random side note: I actually remember learning about "former" and "latter" when I was in elementary school and I remember thinking the concept was so cool. God I was such a nerd).

These cookies turned out really well. You could taste the bacon, but it wasn't overwhelmingly bacony (yes, that's a word).

Pumpkin Bacon Cookies

1 1/3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
1/4 teaspoon ginger
2/3 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup cooked, chopped bacon

Preheat oven to 375.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove and ginger.

In a large bowl, cream shortening and sugars. Beat in eggs, vanilla and pumpkin. Add flour mixture slowly, mixing thoroughly with each addition. Add milk and mix completely. Stir in bacon.

Roll into 1-inch size balls and place 1 1/2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet for 1-2 minutes and then place onto wax paper or wire rack until complete cooled.