Friday, July 29, 2011

Christmas in July: Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Day 12

Some would say that this cookie can't qualify as a Christmas Cookie. And if you're going to a cookie exchange it probably can't.

But here's the thing. We spent nearly every Christmas with my Grandparents (on my Dad's side) and these cookies are the ones my Grandma always made for us whenever we would come visit her. So they remind me of her and when I think of Christmas, I think of her. She died a couple of years ago, so now I always make them at Christmas in memory of her. So for me they get to count as a Christmas cookie. :)

Are these the most fabulous, perfect chocolate chip cookie? I don't know. For me they are. But I don't know if that's the memories attached or the cookie itself. They are really good though! They're a crisp cookie and honestly I think the recipe was off of the chocolate chips package originally (it's still close, but they have changed it since then).

No one made these cookies like Grandma. I think mine are the closest in our family, but her love was in them and it just tastes different than mine. This will be another recipe that gets handed down. I usually have to make it in large quadruple batches because we all love them.

It's wonderful as a pizookie (if you don't know what that is, it's basically a deep dish cookie with ice cream - pizza/cookie, get it?). And you can freeze the dough to make smaller batches of fresh cookies. Who doesn't need a stash in the freezer for 10pm cookie cravings?

Grandma's Chocolate Chip Cookies 
(From Grandma)

Here is what you'll need:

1/2 cup shortening (you can use butter or half butter half shortening, but I find the texture crisper with pure shortening and that's how I prefer it)
1/4 sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp of vanilla
1 egg
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/8 tsp salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (for the ones in the picture I used milk chocolate chips)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional, truthfully I never use them because I'm not a nut-in-my-chocolate-chip-cookies kind of gal)

Cream the shortening, both sugars and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat well. Sift the dry ingredients together and then add to the creamed mixture stirring to mix. Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts. 

Drop by spoonfuls (I use the small cookie scoop from pampered chef) onto a greased baking sheet. Bake at 375ºF for 8-10 minutes (the oven temp has changed with every oven I've used over the years. I think more commonly I have baked them at 350ºF and sometimes for a little longer, so do a test cookie to see what works best for your oven. The cookies will look set and be slightly brown when they're done.

Hope you've found a recipe or two in these last 12 days to add to your Christmas recipe collection. Do you have a favourite recipe to share? Put the link in the comments, I'd love to check it out!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Christmas in July: Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Day 11

So you know when you realize at 11o'clock on a saturday night that you have to bring a plate of cookies to church tomorrow? Just me?

Maybe you suddenly crave something on a hot summer night but just don't want to turn on the oven? No?

Well maybe you just want a yummy tasting square that is unlike all the rest, even though it's so simple and easy?

Okay, now that I have your attention...

I discovered these ones while looking for something quick and easy to make. They are my favourite go to when I forget I'm supposed to be bringing something because they fall under the category of "convenience store recipe" meaning every ingredient can be bought at a convenience store if you don't already have it on hand.

Mars Bars Squares
(slightly adapted from Company's Coming Chocolate Everything cookbook, which really contains chocolate in every recipe ranging from cheesecake to main dishes. Amazing.)

Here is what you'll need:

4 Mars Bars (50g each, black and red label), cut up (they don't come in this exact size anymore, but it's just the regular size ones)
1/2 cup butter
3 cups rice krispies cereal

1 cup Semisweet or milk chocolate chips (I prefer milk)
1/4 cup butter
optional - white chocolate for drizzle

Heat candy bars and butter in large saucepan on low, stirring constantly, until melted. Remove from heat.
Add rice krispies. Stir to coat. Pack into greased or foil-lined 9x9inch pan (I always use foil).

Topping: Heat chocolate chips and butter in small saucepan, stirring often, until smooth. Spread over the top. Optional: drizzle with white chocolate. Cool. Cuts into 36 squares.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Christmas in July: Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Day 10

If yesterday was about family tradition recipes from my side, then I must include one from Mark's side. This is his favourite Christmas cookie. As I mentioned I'm not really a candied cherry loving gal, so these aren't MY personal favourite, but he loves them, so they are now on my list to make every year.

Oh, that makes them sound gross. They're not. They have chocolate and nuts (so I guess if you don't like nuts, don't make these. Ha!). I can't tell you how excited he was to come home and found I had made them in the SUMMER time. I told him to thank my blog. So, thanks to all of you for reading, so that I have motivation to post and thus Mark got his favourite cookie.

Jewel Bars
(These came from Mark's mom. I have no idea if they were originally in a cook book in order to give credit)

Here's what you'll need:

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup brown sugar, firm, divided
¾ cup butter, softened
1 egg
½ tsp salt
1 ½ cups mixed nuts
1 ½ cups halved candied cherries (in the picture I only used green, but it's prettier to use both red and green)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Combine flour with 1/3 cup brown sugar. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press mixture evenly and firmly onto bottom of ungreased (I line mine with foil) 15x10x3/4in jelly roll pan**. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Meanwhile beat egg slightly in large bowl. Stir in remaining 1/3 cup brown sugar and salt. Add nuts, cherries and chocolate chips. Toss mixture lightly to coat. Spoon fruit mixture evenly over baked layer. Press firmly to adhere layers. Bake an additional 20 minutes. Cool. Cut into 1-1/2x2in bars.

**When my mother-in-law originally gave me the recipe she said that she didn't like how thin they were when you made them in the jelly roll pan, sometimes they fall apart (and when you put the crust part in it's hard to get it to cover the bottom). So she generally makes these in a 9x13 inch pan. I forgot this and mine that are pictured were in the jelly roll pan. They are harder to stick together in the larger pan, but if you get it right, I like the thickness of the finished square better. Try it both ways and see which you prefer.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Christmas in July: Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Day 9

Everyone has family traditions. Some involve food. We don't have a million recipes that have been passed down through the generations, but this is one that I know (uh-oh, maybe I'm only pretty sure) came from my Grandma (on my mom's side) therefore, I plan to pass it down to my kids and hopefully we can start something. Ha!

This would be my number one most requested recipes. I don't think I have EVER taken it anywhere without having to send someone the recipe. Sometimes months later I'll receive an email begging for it. So know that it's good.

This is not your typical "crunchy" shortbread (like peak frean makes). This melts in your mouth. It's pretty delicate. If I'm taking it somewhere, I try to take it from my freezer as I'm about to walk out the door just so that I don't have to deal with such a delicate cookie in transport.

I also love this recipe because it makes a ton (a whole jelly-roll pan!). Just don't forget the flour. I made it my first year of college for my roommates and totally got distracted and forgot the flour. What you're left with is basically just a buttery caramel. I think we ate it on ice cream. I think I also gained 20 pounds that year. I wonder why.

Enough reminiscing! Onto the cookie.

Whipped Shortbread

Here's what you'll need:
1 lb butter (NO substitutes)
1 cup icing (confectioners') sugar
pinch of salt
3 cups flour

Whip the butter in a mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add in the icing sugar and salt. Slowly add the flour. Once it's all mixed in beat for 10 minutes scraping down the bowl occasionally (note, if your mixer tends to get warm it may melt the butter, which would not be good, so watch it closely and don't cover if you can help it.). Now, you have two ways to proceed. You can make it into a log in waxed paper, roll it up and put it in the fridge before you slice and bake it for 15 minutes at 300ºF, but I prefer the easier way which is to spread it into a foil lined jelly roll pan (mine is about 10in x 15in). Add sprinkles (you know, to make it pretty!), refrigerate. Once firm, prick with a fork and then bake at 300ºF for 15-25 minutes (the edges will be set and it will just start to turn brown) it really depends on your oven so watch it closely at the end.

This freezes beautifully, which is good because no one should be left with the entire pan to eat themselves!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Christmas in July: Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Day 8

You know how they say the average person gains 8 pounds over the holiday season? Well, I'd propose that a solid 3 of those pounds for me come from these cookies.

They're pretty and chocolate and solidly addicting. Proceed with caution.

DO make a plan to make these, but with that plan choose some friends to indulge with. You know, share the weight gain. They'll thank you later (no really they will because these cookies are that good!).

I wanted to make these with mint chocolate chips instead of the bakers chocolate just for a different flavour, but my grocery store didn't have mint chocolate chips (What?! Is that a seasonal item? I may have to switch stores if this sort of behaviour continues). Anyway, know that is an option if you've got too much chocolate type cookies on your list (that's not possible!).

Chocolate Crinkles
(another one from Company's Coming. This one from the Cookies book)

Here is what you'll need:

1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened (you KNOW I always use butter)
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
4x 1 oz. unsweetened chocolate squares, melted

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

1 cup icing sugar

Cream butter and sugar together. Beat in eggs one a time. Mix in vanilla and chocolate. Stir flour, baking powder and salt together. Add to butter mixture and mix well. Shape into 1-inch balls (don't make them bigger. I use my small scoop from pampered chef to size them). Roll balls in icing sugar. Coat well (you can see in my picture that I didn't dust off the extra. You totally could so there is less to fall off everywhere). Arrange on greased baking sheet. Bake in 350ºF oven for 8-12 minutes. Cookies will be soft (mine were more soft on the inside, but crisp on the outside. Not so soft that they fold themselves in half if you hold them on the edge in one hand. Just so you know.) Makes about 6 dozen.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Christmas in July: Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Day 7

I have a special place in my heart for marshmallows. I love them even more when they're coloured.

Hey, does anyone know where you can get the big ones in colour in Canada? If not, that's another item I'm willing to trade Americans for...

Anyway, I think this is a universal kid thing to like them and therefore any item containing them is typically the first to go on a table full of goodies.

These have coconut so that might deter some kids (which could be a good thing if you're trying to save more for yourself!). I have made them without to make them more kid friendly, but I prefer them with coconut. Some people I know add cherries, but I'm totally not a fan of cherries (the ones used in baking, I'll gladly snack on Rainier cherries any day!) so I prefer to not violate yummy things by adding them.

Chocolate Marshmallow Roll

Here's what you'll need

4 squares semi-sweet chocolate (which is equal to 2/3 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips)
2 tbsp. butter
1 egg
1 cup icing sugar
2 1/2 cups coloured mini marshmallows
coconut to coat (I prefer the smaller pieces of coconut for this, but you can use what you like)

Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Meanwhile, in a small bowl beat together egg and icing sugar. Add to melted chocolate and turn off the heat. Stir together over the turned off element to let the egg cook a bit. Set aside to cool slightly. Tear off a long piece of waxed paper and poured a bed of coconut down the centre (this will help you cover the outside so you want enough to cover the paper, but no need for an excessive amount). Add marshmallows to slightly cooled chocolate mixture and stir well to coat. Place large spoonfuls (I used a spoonula) down the centre of the coconut. You want to make this into a log so don't space them out. Sprinkle some coconut on top. Roll the  waxed paper up the sides to help guide the coconut to cover the sides at the same time squeezing it into a nice roll (I usually open up the waxed paper and move the excess coconut around to the "bald" spots). Wrap the waxed paper around the roll and twist the ends to seal. Refrigerate until set. Slice (usually about 1.5 finger widths) and serve. This freezes well.

ps- Jenny from Crossing the Bugger-Dixon Line featured my Teddy Bear Picnic party today. Go check it out. Thanks Jenny!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Christmas in July: Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Day 6

So you know when the holidays are busy and stressful and you need something that's easy and quick and pretty? Oh and tastes good too?

Well, these are my addiction. They aren't hard at all and they go together quick and the cookies are all done at the same time. You don't have to monitor batch after batch as you put them in the oven. And they add colour to any table, which is always nice to do. You can try them with different jams to make different colours, but I prefer the original raspberry.

If you've never had these, you MUST MAKE THEM!

That's pretty much an order.

Raspberry Ribbons
Originally from a Taste of Home cookbook
Here's what you'll need:

  • 1 cup butter (no substitutes), softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup raspberry jam
  • GLAZE:
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons evaporated milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.

  • Divide dough into four portions; shape each into a 10-in. x 2-1/2-in. log. Place 4 in. apart on greased or foil-lined baking sheets. Make a 1/2-in. depression down the center of each log (I use the handle of my wooden spoon). Bake at 350ºF for 10 minutes.

  • Fill depressions with jam. Bake 10-15 minutes longer or until lightly browned. Cool for 2 minutes. Remove to a cutting board (we have a giant BBQ lifter that I use to transfer them, but if you don't have that you could use two lifters if you fear they will break); cut into 3/4-in. slices (I generally do them about the width of my finger). Place on wire racks.

  • In a small bowl, combine glaze ingredients until smooth. Drizzle over warm cookies. cool completely.

PLEASE try these as they are SO yummy. But please don't blame me for the 5 pounds you gain. *wink*

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Christmas in July: Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Day 5

I love being Canadian! We have lots of things that we are proud of, but I think one of my all-time favourite things is something that doesn't just grow here, but was invented here.

Nanaimo Bars.

Have you had one of these delightful morsels? Or perhaps one of the spin-off flavours (mocha, mint, peanut butter, maple. Mmm, Mmm!).

These started in a place by the same name (Nanaimo, British Columbia) and we have all been singing their praises ever since.

Now, this is not some secret recipe. I've seen it around the internet. I need to clear some things up.

First, whatever you do, do not use vanilla pudding mix in place of the custard powder. It is not the same. It does not taste the same. Please don't do it.

If you can't find custard powder at your grocery store -it looks like this:

then try a british import store. If that doesn't work, send me nutter butters or anything else on this list and I'll send you custard powder.

Second, I'm all for making things my own. And I don't really like nuts and sometimes coconut in my cookies. However, you can't omit and change things around in the crust and still call it a nanaimo bar. 

It's just not. 

Please do it my way at least once. 

And then if you change it just call it something else. Okay? Thanks.


Nanaimo Bars

(from Company's Coming 150 Delicious Squares)

Bottom Layer
1/2 cup butter or hard margarine,
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
1 large egg, beaten
1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
3/4 cup fine or medium coconut
1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped

Second Layer
1/2 cup butter or hard margarine, softened
3 Tbsp milk
2 Tbsp vanilla custard powder
2 cups icing (confectioner's) sugar

Top Layer
2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 Tbsp butter or hard margarine

For the bottom layer melt the first three ingredients together in the top of a double boiler or heavy saucepan (I prefer a double boiler).

Add the beaten egg and stir until it's cooked and slightly thickened. Remove from heat.

Add the graham crumbs, coconut and nuts stirring to combine thoroughly. Press in the bottom of a foil-lined ungreased 9x9inch pan.

For the second layer cream together the butter, milk, custard powder and icing sugar until smooth. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer.

For the top layer, melt both ingredients over low heat (I use the double boiler again). Cool. When cool, but still runny, spread over second layer (do not put on when still hot or you'll melt that second layer and end up with a mess!).  Chill in refrigerator.  A tip that I forgot to do for the ones pictured above is to score the chocolate on top when it's half set. This makes breaking through that top layer less messy.
These freeze beautifully. Makes about 36 squares.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Christmas in July: Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Day 4

Do you have cookies that just bring back special memories? I remember the first time my big sister made these cookies. She was looking for a small enough cookie cutter and my mom pulled out some nesting cutters. I think they were tupperware or something. They were that classic 70's orange. I had often seen them with all my mom's cutters, but she never used them for anything but biscuits (at least that I saw) and I think we used them for play dough more than anything. At least one cutter in the set had a centrepiece that had a mini cutter in it. This, heart shaped one was what Jen used to make:

Creme Wafers
(Taken from my mom's big red Betty Crocker cookbook.)

She made them about 4 different colours. They were so pretty and because they were little and dainty (and probably also  because they were heart-shaped!) they have always had a special place in my "little girl" heart. They're not super sweet (in fact, the only sweetener in the actual cookie is that in which they are dipped), but they are exactly what a little girl at a tea party would love.

I like them at Christmas because they are so small. They make lots and for guests who may feel that they don't want to over-indulge, they are the perfect "just a taste" size.

You can colour them to fit any decor. The picture  is from the Milk, Cookies and Bedtime Story Baby Shower I did for a friend. I made them blue to match the decor.

Here is what you'll need:

1 cup soft butter
1/3 cup whipping cream (no substitutes)
2 cups all-purpose flour
Granulated sugar
Creamy filling (below)

Mix thoroughly butter, cream and flour. Cover and chill. Heat oven to 375ºF. Roll about 1/3 of dough at a time 1/8 inch thick on floured cloth-covered board, keeping remaining dough in the fridge (I've never, for any recipe, cloth-covered my board. Flour is good enough for me!). Cut into 1 1/2in circles. (I did much smaller because I wanted bite-size, so I used the centre of a donut cutter)

Transfer rounds to piece of waxed paper heavily coated in sugar. Turn to cover both sides. Place on ungreased baking sheet. Prick with fork about 4 times. Bake 7-9 minutes or just until set but not brown. Cool. Put cookies together in pairs with creamy filling.

Creamy Filling
Cream ¼ cup soft butter, ¾ cup confectioners sugar and 1 tsp vanilla (I used mint extract for the ones above) until smooth and fluffy. Tint with few drops of food colour. (add few drops of water if necessary for proper spreading consistency)


Monday, July 18, 2011

Christmas in July: Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Day 3

Some time in Jr. High or High school I assumed the job as baker in my family. I've always enjoyed baking and with a large family, it doesn't stick around for long. Since I always liked to have stuff on hand for company or to snack on and I get bored kind of easily (uh, really easily), then I was always on the hunt for new recipes.

This was one that I tried on a whim while looking for something to take to a meeting and I fell in love! I'm not sure where the name comes from but when my brother asked why they were called "smacks" I told him that was because if he took any I would smack him.

I present:
Chocolate Smacks

This is another company's coming recipe. This one came from the 150 Delicious Squares. I don't think I have found one in this book that I have not enjoyed. Though it probably helps that Jean Pare has the same chocolate and peanut butter obsession as me.

Now, I am usually an "omit the nuts" kind of baker, but this recipe needs the nuts for the right texture so don't skip them. I often switch them out for pecans (and actually those are pecans in the picture).

You will need:
Bottom layer
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup butter or hard margarine, softened
2 large egg yolks (save the whites!)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Top layer
2 large egg whites, room temperature (though mine never are...)
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tbsp. cocoa
1 cup chopped walnuts

For the bottom layer, mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl  until crumbly. (I've often used a pastry blender to help with this, but this time I used the Pampered chef Mix 'n Chop and it seriously was the best thing ever and got the most even texture I've ever had. Just a tip.) Press into the bottom of a foil-lined 9x9inch pan. Set aside

For the top layer. Beat egg whites until frothy. Add the brown sugar 1/3 at a time, beating until stiff after each addition. Beat in cocoa to blend. Gently fold in the nuts and spread over the bottom layer.

Bake at 350ºF for about 25 minutes until golden brown. Cool before cutting. Cut with sharp knife dipped in hot water between cuts. Makes about 36 squares. Try not to eat them all yourself.

Note that the top will crack as you cut it. There is no way around it. I always line my pan with the foil so that I can lift it out of the pan, peel down the sides and cut the entire row with one slice. This makes the squares less messy and more uniform (I do that for all types of bar cookies). These can be frozen, but I prefer them fresh because the topping is just better that way.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Christmas in July: Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Day 2

Welcome to day 2 of Christmas in July: Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies

Today we're making Shortbread Pinwheels!
(this recipe is from the Company's Coming Cookies cookbook - which, if you don't own, I highly recommend you get!)

I recently discovered these cookies so this year will be the first time I make them at Christmas time. I like that they are a cookie you can make ahead and bake them when you already have the oven on for something else. You can also freeze them and pull them out for last minute company. I'm a fan of anything like that!

These are pretty, as well as yummy. You can tint the layers whatever colour you like (I use regular food colouring, but if you want an intense colour I would use the paste). We did pink because I have a 3 year old and she likes pink. I highly recommend doing one of the layer chocolate because it's so good. But that same pink-loving three year old didn't want brown cookies this time, so we decided to skip it.

I always think it's important to have colour on a tray of cookies. Presentation makes things appealing and  when there is a pop of colour on the tray it makes all the cookies look even better. So add this one to your cookie plate!

Let's get to baking. Here is what you'll need:

1 cup butter (not margarine), softened
2/3 cup icing (confectioner's) sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa (optional)

Cream butter and sugar together. Mix in vanilla and flour. Divide the dough into two equal portions.

Now, you can add the cocoa to one of the portions, mixing well, or tint it the colour of your choice. Roll it out between two layers of waxed paper (I always wet the counter before I put the first piece down to help it stay in place). Roll to a size of 7 inches by 12 inches. Set aside.

Tint the second portion, if desired, and roll between 2 layers of waxed paper to a size of 7 inches x 12 inches. Remove top layer of paper off of both layers. Invert the second layer over the first keeping the ends together. Now the original recipe said to roll from the short end, I always roll from the long end so that the cookies don't end up huge. Personal preference. Roll it up jelly roll style and remove the paper as you roll. Make sure it's rolled tight so you don't end up with a hole in the middle like this:

Wrap and chill overnight or until firm. When ready to bake slice into 1/3 inch (8mm) thick slices. Place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350ºF for 10-12 minutes.

For variations you can divide it into three, roll them into long ropes and stack them together into a triangle to make "clovers." In the same fashion you can make four ropes (2 of each colour) and do a checker board.

Next week I'll have some of my absolute favourites that I've been making for years, including a Canadian favourite. Yum!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Christmas in July: Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Day 1

It is no secret that I LOVE me some Christmas. It is my favourite holiday! I love everything about it, but especially the food. I plan Christmas all year long (okay, when I say I plan all year, it's more that I gather ideas throughout the year. I'm not totally weird).

So in order to celebrate all that I love about Christmas I'm doing a little mini series of Christmas cookies, in July, because, well, I needed an excuse to make cookies! So I present
Christmas in July: Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies!
(uh, YES I was too lazy to make a button. That, and I have no idea how...)

Over the next 12 days I'll post a recipe each day from my cookie (and squares) stash. These will include fun ones to do with your kids, traditional cookies as well as some new ones. Hopefully you'll find something to add to YOUR Christmas recipe stash. Or just your regular cookie stash. Hehe!

Traditional Sugar Cookies
(This was in the book or recipes that I made for myself when I moved out of my parents' house. I think it originally came from my Mom's big red Betty Crocker Cookbook.)

These are such versatile cookies. I use them to make all sorts of things. Like Melted snowmen, french fries and even itty bitty sparkly stars at the milk, cookies and bedtime stories baby shower.

You can leave them plain (I did when I made the fries), decorate them with icing (like we did at our Christmas cookie party), cover them in (plain or coloured) sugar, or use cookie paint, which is what I'm going to show you today!

First let's make the cookies. Here is what you'll need:

3/4 cup shortening (I have made these with butter, but the shortening makes for a crisper cookie and I'm always happier with the result this way. It also makes them dairy-free if you need them to be)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract OR 1/2 tsp Lemon extract (I prefer the lighter flavour of the lemon especially when on a table of "heavier" flavoured cookies)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Cream together the shortening, sugar, eggs and flavouring. You want it to be nice and smooth. If you do use butter, cream it first before adding everything else to help smooth it out.

Blend in the flour, baking powder and salt. Cover and chill at least one hour.

Heat oven to 400ºF. Roll dough 1/8in thick on lightly floured counter-top. (Okay, when I made the snowmen and fries they were much thicker, so then I just turned down the oven to 375ºF and baked it a little longer). Cut into desired shapes. Paint with cookie paint (recipe below). Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes or until very light brown.

Cookie Paint

If you've never done this, you're going to LOVE this. I see it as a good way to get the kids to help decorate cookies without the "ick factor" of their slimy, licked fingers as they try to deal with icing. If they happen to touch the cookie, all the germs get baked off! Ha!

Take the yolk of one egg and stir it together with 1/4 tsp of water. Divide between small bowls (I did 3 colours with one egg yolk) and colour with food colouring (the regular liquid variety works). I was a little concerned that these might change colour from the yolk of the egg, but they don't, so don't worry about adding blue to the yellow yolk, you'll still get blue.

Take a clean paint brush and paint the cookies before baking (I'm sure this would work on any sugar cookie, even the pre-made store bought dough). The more saturated the paint, the darker the colours (though try not to have them dripping). If the paint gets thick, thin it with a drop or two of water.

When you bake them the colours come our bright and shiny. Like this:

Pretty huh? These designs are courtesy of my 3 year old.

Linking up here:
Somewhat SimpleHookingupwithHoHSumo's Sweet StuffTuesday To Do Party and I heart naptime

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Teddy Bear Picnic Part 2

On Monday I showed you all the decor and food for the Teddy Bear's Picnic (if you missed it, click here), but we all know, the real fun is in the activities we did! Which is what today's post is all about.

"station" sign

We took parts from the story/song to name various stations of things we did. The first thing the story says is that if you go into the woods today you better go in disguise. So, we had each of the kids make felt bear ears (glued to pins that they could pin onto an elastic style headband).

I didn't get pictures of any of the kids wearing them  at the party because the glitter glue was busy drying... So Mady posed with hers the next day.

They also made honey-comb necklaces. Adalya loved eating hers. Ha!

We also had some bear colouring pages on hand for those that finished their disguises early. These activities worked well as we waited for the rest of the guests to arrive.

Next we all sat down and I read the kids the actual Teddy Bear's Picnic story.

Then, since we know that bears like to play hide and seek ("beneath the trees where nobody sees, they'll hide and seek as long as they please") we sent the kids to find the bears. Well, at least their paw prints. We gave each child a basket with a mini paper paw on it and they had to find all the matching ones. (on the back of the mini one that they were using as their "guide" I wrote the child's name and how many they had to find).

To make it a bit more fair with the varying ages of kids we had them find double whatever their age was (those under the age of 1 just had to find 1 and the 10 year old had to find 20!). It worked pretty good.

When they found all their paws they brought them to me and they got a book as a prize. The babies I gave a bear board book to and the older kids (except the 10 year old since they would be a little below her) all got a Berenstain bears book.

After the hunt we ate food ("There's lots of wonderful food to eat") which you can read about here.

And then we went and played parachute games ("and wonderful games to play"). My sister planned them all and Goober (Mady's bear) got to do all sorts of fun things from playing in the "rain" to being tossed in the air, going on a carousal ride and being "rocked" to sleep. I think Mady enjoyed it the most since it was her bear. Haha!

 We made a "ball pit" for the babies to play in.

Uh oh, she noticed Mom.

After the parachute we had cake. Here are the girls getting their cupcakes. Kate did much better eating her cake than Mady did 2 years ago. I think she finished half of it!

Next we pulled apart the (bee hive) piñata. Each kid got a ribbon to hold and on the count of three they pulled and opened it up. Inside were bags for each kid of gummy bears and jujube bears (We didn't do a mad scramble since we had a variety of ages from 0-10 and didn't think it would be very fair for the little ones.

"Every bear that's ever been good is sure of a treat today" so for treat bags the kids brought me their baskets and they got another baggie of teddy grahams, a chocolate teddy bear lollipop that I made and a honey stick (pink lemonade or root beer flavoured).

So that's the party. Hope you enjoyed it! Here are just some other party shots for memory's sake.

Claire out looking for paws
Big brother Josiah
Contrast of moods: Adalya
Contrast of moods: Kaitlyn
Swingin' Sisters
Mommy, Daddy and the Birthday Girl

Mommy and the birthday girl
(hey family, did anyone get pictures of Jen with her kids?? I don't have any! Sorry Jenna!)

Sweet friends

Hey look! My brother got a picture of a pinwheel!
Photo credits: Me, my sister and my brother.