Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Reindeer Cookies

And so the stint in the kitchen continues....2 dozen cookies for the play school cookie exchange.  I decided on the reindeer cookies as I'd seen several on pinterest, see here.  I used my own cookie recipe with a packet of seasonal M&M's (didn't want to run out of red noses!) & small pretzels.

Plain biscuits (or cookie if you are American)
1 cup of butter
1/3 cup of sugar. I used a mix of brown & white
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch salt
 2 1/2 cups of flour sifted

Preheat oven to 360F
Cream the butter & sugar until pale. Slowly beat in the egg. Stir in the rest of the ingredients.  Leave the dough to rest in the fridge for at least an hour.  Rather than rolling out I then rolled the dough into balls which I squashed & flatten to form a sort of reindeer face shape.  Bake in the oven for 10mins. They should be still pale but just on the turn.  
Next you need to work SUPER fast to turn them into fully fledged reindeer.  Press in the pretzels taking care not to snap them & the M&M's for eyes & nose.  I found the pretzels wouldn't stick so I used the left over chocolate from the Peppermint creams to wodge them on.  By the end of the second tray nothing was sticking & I was in all out bodge mode (at was 9pm). The last few look like roadkill, but I'm sure the kiddo's at play school won't notice :-).  

The lesson to be learnt is don't let the biscuits dry out or even put the pretzels and M&M's in before you bake.....

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Peppermint Creams

Like many of you (I suspect) peppermint creams were my first experience of "cooking". My sister and I had a Blue Peter cookbook and this was one of their tried and very tested recipes, along with Grandma's stick jaw toffee & coconut ice. Sadly neither of us have the book any more so this is not the original recipe.  I like this one as it doesn't use raw egg white so its a little more kid friendly.  We have made a batch for my eldest to give as teacher gifts.  Lets hope they like them!

Peppermint Creams

400g icing sugar
4 tbsp evaporated milk
2 tsp peppermint essence
green food colouring (optional)

Makes approx 30

Sift the icing sugar into a big bowl.  Pour in the evaporated milk & peppermint essence and mix until it binds stiffly.  Generously dust the work surface with icing sugar and kneed the mixture until its a smooth glossy dough.  If you are using the green, divide your batch into 2 and add a few drops of green food colouring to one of them. Kneed in. Wrap each batch in cling film and pop in the fridge for about an hour.
Prepare a sheet of greaseproof paper by rubbing with a little vegetable oil.  Dust the work surface & rolling pin generously with icing sugar and roll out your dough to about 1cm thick.  Cut out desired shape (or roll into balls & press) and place them on greaseproof paper.  Put back into the fridge to dry out/harden.  You can drizzle with chocolate, or blob as we did! Keep in an air tight container until you need to dispatch.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Vintage soda crates

I stumbled across these beauties whilst browsing Craigslist the other day. I couldn't resist. Ended up buying 10 of them. Why you ask yourself, no I don't know either.  

With a dust down and a sand of the rough edges (not too much I like the distressed "vintage" look) I think there uses are boundless.  My original thought was a few of them toy/book boxes for the girls rooms. That leaves me at least 6...What would you use them for?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Thrifty find

I bought this wooden cupboard months ago for 14 bucks from Goodwill and have finally got round to finishing it.  I fell out of love with it over the months, as you do when projects kick about for ages.  I am happy to report we are right back there after I finished it off & filled it with my daughter's favourite trinkets (OK my favourites of her trinkets).

Managed to get the maps in another project. That atlas for a dollar from a yard sale was a dollar well spent.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas cards

Agghhh mail merge! Why do you taunt me so with your simple sounding instructions? Yet give me 1 1/2 addresses on each label?  More the fool am I for trying to go high tech and print my address labels this year.....Anyway, the battle was won (after many tedious hours and failed attempts), we have labels stuck on envelopes. Thank you to my eldest daughter who helped with the sticking.  The US mail man will be saved my lazy scrawl.

I am rather pleased with this years Christmas cards. They've got maps on them, what's not to like?  

I am blogging around the Christmas tree with the best of them and have posted a link to my cards with The 36th Avenue.  There are some other fantastic cards. Inspiration for next year!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Its beginning to feel a lot like Christmas

It is official, the build up to Christmas has started in our house, and I'm excited! My list of pre Christmas jobs is still being stored "up stairs" but will soon need to be converted to paper to ensure I don't forget anything.

We made Christmas stones the other afternoon (can you guess which ones the girls did?). It was a great way to spend a cold and windy afternoon and really got us into the mood.  They are currently serving as a table runner decoration.

These muffins were a house warming gift as the flavours seemed appropriately seasonal.  You could even swap the dried cherries for dried cranberries to up the Christmasiness.  I think I will be making them again over the next few weeks, maybe even for Christmas morning?

Spiced apple & dried cherry muffins
175g of apple peeled and finely chopped (the original recipe calls for a bramley, but any variety will do)
75g dried cherries
75g golden sugar
1 large egg, beaten
150ml milk
75ml oil
250g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
generous sprinkle of mixed spice (at least 2 tsp)
pinch of salt
demerara sugar to sprinkle on top

Heat oven to 375F (190C).  Add peeled & chopped apple to bowl with all but 12 of the cherries, golden sugar, egg, milk & oil. Mix together.  Sift in flour, mixed spice, baking powder & salt.  Fold the ingredients together ensure all the flour is mixed in but try to keep it light.  Divide into 12 muffin cases then top with a cherry & a sprinkle of demerara sugar.  Bake for 25mins until golden. Turn out onto wire rack.

I think this is the earliest we have ever got a tree, fingers crossed it hasn't dropped all of its pesky needles by the 25th....I love getting out the tree decorations, its like seeing old friends again, some of them perky and pleased to be on show, others a little tired and a bit droopy.  Our tree is super sized in comparison to our UK version, I think we need to get some more decorations, what do you think?

Right then, enough blogging on with the "real" jobs - making mince pies & the Christmas cards.