Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Big Cookie Project: Week 35

Happy Birthday Jesus!

That was my goal this week, to make a birthday cake for Jesus. I've been struggling with trying to explain to Nolan how Christmas and the birth of Christ coincide with each other. My sister had to break it down for me like this:

"Saint Nick loved giving presents to good children all year-round. He got so busy with so many gifts that he decided to only do it once a year. He chose the most special day of all...Jesus' birthday."

I've never done a cake for Jesus' birthday before, so off to the internet I went to look for a good recipe. Most of the cakes I found were knee-deep in symbolism, which I thought would go straight over Nolan's head. So, I went with a Chocolate Chip Pound Cake Recipe. I thought the process of just making the cake for Jesus would be a good experience for Nolan this year. Next year, we'll try the other ones. Recipe:


1 cup butter, softened

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla

3 cups flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

3/4 cup buttermilk (I used whole milk, that's all I had, and it worked)

1 (12oz.) pkg. semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup peanut butter


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and grease and flour a 12-cup bundt pan. In a large bowl, mix together the sugar and butter until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time. Add baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Alternate adding the flour and buttermilk. For example, add 1 cup flour, mix well, then add 1/4 cup buttermilk and mix well. Keep on alternating until you've added all the flour and buttermilk required.

2. Fold in 1 cup of chocolate chips and bake for 55-75 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.

3. After the cake is done, out of the bundt pan and cooled, use a microwave-safe bowl and add the rest of the chocolate chips and the 1/2 cup peanut butter. Microwave for 30 seconds and stir. Keep on microwaving for small incriments until the peanut butter and chocolate are totally combined. Use as icing for your cake!

Here's Nolan with our bundt cake pre-icing. It was this super detailed castle bundt pan that Greg got on clearance for $1 at HEB. Not a typo....$1!!!!

Nolan drizzling the icing over the castle.

Our finished product (I smoothed out the icing as best I could). Nolan had a good time making this cake in honor of Jesus. He was even trying to convince me to buy Jesus a pair of shoes at Target. It was hard explaining that Jesus really didn't need a pair of shoes, all Jesus wanted was for Nolan to love Him and love others. We've had quite a few interesting conversations this week.

Have a Merry Christmas, enjoy your family, and of course enjoy some baking!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Big Cookie Project: Week 34

I'm eating one of my cookies for this week as I type. To be totally honest, I think I've had close to five since they came out of the oven. They were too good, I couldn't help myself. They are reminiscent of my favorite kind of sandwich, a classic peanut butter and jelly. I think I ate pb&j sandwiches almost every day when I was pregnant with Nolan. Perfect combination in my opinion, whoever thought of this pairing is a genius in my book.
They are called Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies( a little obvious, I know)
1 cup sugar, plus more for rolling dough balls
1 cup crisco
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup smooth peanut butter (I used 1/2 cup chunky pb, b/c I ran out of smooth)
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
Jam, Jelly or Preserves of your choice

1. Cream sugar, crisco and brown sugar in a blender. Add peanut butter, milk, eggs and dry ingredients until smooth
2. Roll in to balls, roll ball in to sugar
3. Bake at 375 degrees F for 7 minutes, take out of oven. Use a teaspoon to make an indention on top of cookie, then take 1/2 teaspoon of preserves and place in indention. Bake for another 2 minutes in the oven.
4. Cool completely on wire rack.

I felt like this recipe made quite a few cookies. That's okay, because I'm packaging them up tomorrow for gifts for my 2's class at school. I think they'll like them. Let's hope no one is allergic to peanut butter....or strawberries....haha:)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Big Cookie Project: Week 33

Gingerbread time! I've been planning to make a gingerbread cookie in December ever since I started this project. The search was on for the perfect cookie recipe. Martha Stewart came to my rescue!

This is a picture of the outcome of the cookies that Martha Stewart made. Greg was doubtful on how they would turn out. He spent quite a lot of time trying to convince me to buy boxed mix, but I was set on making it from scratch. I then realized why he was trying to convince me, spices are expensive! We tried to buy as many off-brand spices as possible, but one spice was over $4! That hurt a little. If you want to save money, go to a store that sells spice in bulk and only buy what the recipe requires. That will save you a ton of money. We ended up not doing that b/c it was all the way across town and we were short on time. Here's the recipe:


5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work station

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 tsp. salt

4 tsp. ground ginger

4 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp. ground cloves

1 tsp. ground nutmeg

1 cup (2 sticks) butter

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups molasses

Royal icing (for decorating)


1. Mix butter and brown sugar in an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Add eggs and molasses and mix until combined. Add flour, spices, baking soda and salt and mix on low until combined. Divide dough in to thirds, wrap in plastic and chill for 1 hour.

2. Roll dough out on to generously floured counter until dough is just under 1/4 inch thick. Cut out shapes, place on cookie sheets and then place the cookie sheet in to freezer for 15 minutes, until firm.

3. Bake cookies in a 350 degrees F oven for 12 to 14 minutes, or until crisp but not darkened. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

4. Place icing in a pastry bag fitted with a small plain tip. Pipe designs on to the cut-out cookies, immediately sprinkle with sanding sugar. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.

***A few things I changed: instead of using molasses, I used dark corn syrup b/c that's all I had in the pantry (Step 1). I used a ziploc bag with a corner snipped off as my icing bag instead of a pastry bag (Step 4). I sprinkled some of my cookies with sugar. The sugar was sticking nicely to the icing, but also sticking too well to the actual cookie. And I was making a mess in my kitchen, so I stopped sprinkling with sugar.

Here's my dough divided in to three equal parts...well not really equal. More like Papa, Mama and Baby Gingerbread :)Nolan helped me cut out all the shapes...we tried to stick with Christmas theme, but a few dinosaurs and trucks snuck in there.Here's all the cookies, it fixed A LOT!

The end product! Probably not as nice as Martha Stewart, but I'm still happy with them.

Hope the people at the Cookie Exchange like them too!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Winter Wonderland...a myth?

I think every Texan has the same fantasy in the dog-days of summer... their house and lawn covered in powdery snow while a fire is roaring in the background. You sit by your large window sipping hot cocoa or tea (whichever you prefer) and watch the kids frolic in the winter wonderland. I think I gave in to this fantasy ALL summer long with so many days topping 100 degrees. I always imagine this majestic landscape and maybe even a deer running through the neighborhood. I don't know why I imagine a deer, it just fits in with my "Winter Wonderland" mindset.

And then, it actually happens, it starts getting cooler outside!! I start getting prepared, buy some fire starter logs and stock up on my hot cocoa. Sadly, though my fantasy hits a snag and I remember I live in Texas where it MIGHT snow once all winter and where winter isn't as fun as I imagined it all summer long. I'd like to share some things that have already put a damper on my winter:

1. Cold hands and feet. It seems as though my extremeties cannot hold any body heat. If I could wear mittens around the house without looking crazy, I think I would.

2. Cold bathrooms. Cold toilet seats. Cold bathroom floors. Cold water in the showers. Enough said.

3. Actually having to GO OUT in the cold. I think the bear population had a great idea with the whole "hibernation" thing. It sucks to go outside when its cold and wait in your car for it to warm up.

4. Winter clothing: When you have on 3 layers everyone looks a little chubbier

5. My idea of snuggling by the fireplace hasn't happened yet, and we've already had quite a few freezing nights.

Granted, I think the only reason we got through summer was our anticipation of winter. But now that winter is here (I hate to admit this) I am sort of, just a TINY bit, looking forward to warmer temperatures. Of course, winter does have it's benefits. It wouldn't be the same looking at Christmas lights, sitting by a fire, or sipping hot cocoa if it were 80 degrees outside.

Here's to hoping that you have your "Winter Wonderland" that you've been dreaming about all summer come true. For me, I'll keep on dreaming :)

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Big Cookie Project: Week 32

I admit it. I am having chocolate chip withdrawl. It has been a few weeks where I have not made any cookie with any kind of chocolate in it, and it's killing me! I have left up the cookie choosing to Greg on Thursdays, because he does the grocery shopping that day and gets whatever I need for the recipe. He is not a fan of multiple chocolates in a cookie, but I LOVE it. My idea for this week was a "5 Chip Cookie". Doesn't that sound delicious?? 5 different kinds of chips! That ideas was shot down pretty quickly and Pecan Sandies were chosen this week. To compensate my chocolate chip craving, I ate a handful of M&Ms while making these cookies. I know, pathetic, but please don't judge my chocolate addiction :)

Pecan Sandies Recipe:


1/3 cup butter, softened

1/3 cup shortening

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups self-rising flour

1/2 cup chopped pecans


1. Cream the butter, shortening, sugar and brown sugar together in a mixture at medium speed. Add egg and then the dry ingredients.

2. Mix in by hand the pecans.

3. Drop by spoonful on to cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees F for 10-12 minutes

4. Let cool on rack

They turned out a little flatter than I expected, but still yummy. Greg likes them, but he is a fan with anything that has pecans in them. If you don't have self-rising flour just use regular flour and add 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Viola! You have your own self-rising flour.

Happy Baking!!

PS...Had to add this picture of Mallory who was "smiling" for me. Doesn't really look like smiling, more of an angry grimace where she is trying to show me every single tooth in her mouth. We'll have to work on it, but she's still pretty darn cute. Too funny!