Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas Cookie Swap

     Awhile ago I invited some of my lady friends over to have a Christmas Cookie Swap.  If you haven't been to one of these they are great!  Everyone bakes up some cookies, I asked everyone to bring 3 dozen, plus the cookie recipe.  Then, we place all the cookies out and everyone can box some up to take home plus we swap the cookie recipes!  It's a lot of fun!

I love decorating for a party and this was no exception.
Even Zippy decided to hang out on the cookie table!

I went for a red gold vintage inspired table decor.

Put out my little baking Santa with some cinnamon scented pinecones

I just to put one of my fox ornaments out with the pretty garland

And of course, what would Christmas be without a Nativity Scene

Love poinsettia during the holidays and this one was so pretty!

Liam and I made some old school paper chains

I hung up some of the Candy Cane pipe cleaners we made

I also wanted to put up some paper snowflakes.
This is best one I've ever cut out!

I made some Broiled Grapefruit

How about a little sweet and savory 
with these Sausage Bacon Bites

I know they are a little toasty but very tasty, 

These Hazelnut Goji Berry Truffles were pretty yummy too!

Since it's a cookie swap..here are the cookies I baked up!

My friend Marisa brought these Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

My friend Amanda brought these Chocolate Almond Logs

My friend Elizabeth brought these Peanut Butter Squares

And my friend Jennie brought the Peppermint Bark

I set up a Hot Cocoa Bar too!

Stocked with marshmallows, peppermint marshmallows, 
peppermint sticks, and some cinnamon.

This was the BEST Hot Cocoa
and it was made in the CROCKPOT!

And I set up a Champagne Bar!

Fresh fruit and different kinds of juices to add to your champagne!

I went with an Orange Juice, Pomegranate Juice, with Raspberries Mimosa!

Enjoying some brunch

After some yummy munchies, 
the ladies put on their aprons and got to baking!

We baked up some Andes Mint Chocolate Cookies

I made these cute party favors for the ladies to take home!

Another fun filled party and yummy too!
Hope you enjoy all the cookie recipes!

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Hazelnut Goji Berry Truffles

     Ok, ok...so let me tell you the back story on these.  First of all, these totally DO NOT look like the picture from Pinterest or the website that I got the recipe from.  According to the recipe, you are suppose to grind up the dried Goji Berries to a very fine crumble in the food processor.  I totally would have done that if my daughter wasn't deathly afraid of the crazy loud appliance!  I turned it on and WHOA!  Instant tears of terror!  So, instead I tried to just mince them up the old school way with the knife.  As you can see, the berries didn't quite chop as finely as it called for in the recipe.  So I just got creative and put some on the top of the hazelnut chocolate truffles.  They might not look the same in the pictures, but they sure tasted good!

Here's how to make them:

1 cup of hazelnuts
12 Medjool dates (pitted)
2 Tbsp of coconut oil
1/3 cup of cocoa powder
1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon
a small pinch of salt
1/4-1/3 cup of dried goji berries

How to make them:

Preheat oven to 350˚F.
Toast the hazelnuts on a baking sheet for 20 minutes.
Allow them to cool slightly, then carefully remove the skins. (Rolling them in between your hands helps.)
Then place the peeled toasted hazelnuts into a food processor and pulse until they are a fine consistency.
While the food processor is running, add the dates one at a time.
Next add the coconut oil, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and salt; pulse until everything is combined. (Mixture should be slightly stick, but holding together.)
Place the mixture in a bowl and refrigerate for 20 minutes to 1 hour.
Meanwhile, make the Goji Berry crumble by placing the Goji Berries in a food processor and pulse until they are a fine consistency.
Place the crumble on a small, flat plate.
Form the truffles between your hand by rolling them between your palms. (They should be about the diameter of a quarter)
Then roll the truffle into the Goji Berry crumble.
Refrigerate again for at least an hour before serving, then ENJOY!

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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

My friend Marisa brought these!

What you need:

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup unsalted butter (softened)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg (room temperature, beaten)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp milk
40 miniature chocolate covered peanut butter cups (unwrapped)

How to make them:

Preheat oven to 375˚F.
Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda, set aside.
In a bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, peanut butter, and brown sugar until fluffy.
Beat in the egg, vanilla, and milk.
Add in the flour mixture, mix well.
Shape into 40 balls and place each onto prepared baking sheet.
Bake for about 8 minutes.
Remove from oven and immediately press a mini peanut butter cup into each ball.
Cool on pan for 3 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, then ENJOY!

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Peppermint Bark

My friend Jennie brought these!

What you need:

2- 12oz packages of milk chocolate chips
2- 12oz packages white chocolate chips
2 tsp peppermint extract
8 peppermint candy canes (crushed and divided)

How to make them:

Line a 12x18 inch jelly roll pan with aluminum foil.
Melt the milk chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl in 30 second intervals, stirring after each melting.
Stir in the peppermint extract.
Spread the chocolate evenly in the prepared pan, chill in refrigerator until set, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile melt the white chocolate using the same melting method.
Stir in 1/4 cup of the crushed candy canes.
Spread the white chocolate mixture evenly over the milk chocolate.
Sprinkle the remaining candy cane pieces evenly over the white chocolate layer.
Chill until set, about 1 hour.
Break into small pieces to serve then ENJOY!
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Chocolate Almond Logs

My friend Amanda brought these!

What you need:

1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 egg (room temperature)
1 tsp almond extract
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup white chocolate chips

How to make them:

Preheat oven to 375˚F.
Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a bowl of an electric mixer combine shortening, sugar, butter, and egg until fluffy.
In a separate bowl sift together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt.
Add flour mixture and almond extract to the butter mixture mix until combined.
Form dough into small logs.
Bake for 9 minutes.
Let cool on pan for 3 minutes then on wire rack until completely cooled.
Melt white chocolate chips in microwave for 30 seconds on HIGH, stir, microwave again if needed for 15 seconds.
Dip one end of the baked logs into the melted chocolate, garnish with sprinkles, then ENJOY!

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Peanut Butter Squares

My friend Elizabeth brought these! 

What you need:

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup white Karo corn syrup
4 cups Kellogs Special K
1 - 12oz jar crunch peanut butter
6 plain Hershey chocolate bars

How to make them:

Butter a 9x13inch pan.
Pour the Special K and peanut butter in the prepared pan, set aside.
In a medium saucepan bring corn syrup and sugar to a boil.
Add the syrup sugar mixture to the pan and mix fast!
Unwrap the chocolate bars and place them on top of the mixture, set aside for 10-15 minutes.
Then spread the chocolate evenly.
Place in refrigerator to harden up.
When set, cut into bars then ENJOY!

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Sausage Bacon Bites

Recipe from the Cuisine Holiday Menus Magazine

What you need:

1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 Tbsp stone-ground mustard
3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp black pepper
1 lb kielbasa
12 strips bacon (halved)

How to make them:

Preheat oven to 375˚F.
Line a baking sheet with foil and top with a cooling rack.
Lightly coat rack with nonstick cooking spray.
To make the glaze, combine the brown sugar, mustard, vinegar, and pepper in  small saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves; keep warm.
Slice the kielbasa in half lengthwise.
Cut each half into twelve 1 1/2 inch thick pieces.
Wrap bacon around each piece and secure with a toothpick.
Brush each bite with sauce then transfer to prepared baking sheet.
Roast bites basting them every 15 minutes, until bacon is cooked through, 35-40 minutes. 
Remove from oven, serve warm, and ENJOY!

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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Candied Bacon & Bourbon Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recipe from Tidy Mom

What you need:

5 slices of bacon (raw)
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 cups minus 2 Tbsp cake flour
1 2/3 cups bread flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter (room temperature)
1/4 cup bacon grease (chilled)
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp granulate sugar
2 large eggs (room temperature)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 TBsp bourbon
8 oz bittersweet chocolate chips

How to make them:

Candied Bacon
Preheat oven to 375˚F.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Toss bacon strips in 1/4 cup maple syrup in a medium size bowl, then lay bacon on prepared pan.
Bake for 20 minutes.
Remove bacon from oven, allow to cool, then crumble and set aside.

Heat oven to 350˚F.
Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and pepper into a bowl, set aside.
Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter, bacon grease, and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes.
Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
Stir in the vanilla and bourbon.
Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds.
Drop chocolate chips and crumbled bacon in and mix into dough.
Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Scoop out a tablespoon of dough onto the prepared baking sheets at least 3 inches apart.
Bake until golden brown but still soft, 9-11 minutes.
Transfer sheet to wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. 
Serve warm or room temperature and ENJOY!

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Lemon Pistachio & Cranberry Wreath Cookies

Recipe from Martha Stewart

Here's what you need:

1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup all purpose flour (sifted), plus more for work surface
3/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (softened)
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp granulate sugar
2 large egg yolks (room temperature)
5 tsp lemon zest (finely grated)
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups confectioner's sugar
1 1/2 cups pistachios (unsalted, shelled, toasted, and coarsely chopped)
1/2 cup dried cranberries (finely chopped)

How to make them:

Whisk flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
Put butter and sugar into a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy.
Mix in yolks, lemon zest, and vanilla.
Reduce speed to low, gradually mix in flour mixture.
Shape into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350˚F.
Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface.
Roll out to a generous 1/8 inch think.
Using a 2 1/2-inch round fluted cutter, cut out wreaths.
Reroll scraps and cut out more.
Cut out centers of wreaths using a 7/8-inch round cutter.
Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Space 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet.
Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.
Bake about 12 minutes or until just golden.
Let cool on pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
Stir together confectioner's sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl.
Dip surface of each cookie in inching.
Sprinkle with pistachios and cranberries.
Let set on wire racks then ENJOY!

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Crockpot Hot Cocoa

     This is the BEST hot cocoa I've ever made...and it was in the CROCKPOT! YUM!

Recipe from Mrs. Happy Homemaker

Here's what you need:

1 1/2 cups whipping (heavy) cream
14oz can sweetened condensed milk
6 cups milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups of chocolate chips (milk chocolate OR semi-sweet, depending on how sweet you want it..I used Hershey's Milk Chocolate Chips)

How to make it:

Stir together the whipping cream, condensed milk, milk, vanilla, and chocolate chips in the crockpot.
Cover and cook on low for 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until mixture is hot and chocolate chips are melted.
Stir again before serving.
Garnish as desired and ENJOY!

I set up a Hot Cocoa Bar 

With some Christmassy mugs,
Peppermint Sticks
Peppermint Marshmallows
Regular Marshmallows
and some frozen Whipped Cream Stars

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