Monday, November 30, 2009

Cookie Know-How

I thought that before I started posting some recipes, that I would go through Christmas baking tips!
First of all, in order to make 15 different kinds, one must use the bake and freeze method. I start about 2 weeks before Thanksgiving and when I defrost the cookies at Christmas, they still taste very fresh!
Here is my best friend during cookie season:

A few years ago when my baking really took off, I quickly realized that my normal freezer didn't have nearly enough room. So...we got this one at Sam's Club. It is very basic, but gets the job done!

Here she is, with what I have made so far:

The containers on the left side are Rubbermaid Takealongs. I usually get them at Wal-Mart and they work great for stacking in the freezer. Whatever containers you use, just be sure they have a good seal.

Here is one with the 5 Layer bars I just made:

What I do is as I make a batch of cookies, I layer them in the container with wax paper between the layers. They go right in the freezer before they can get eaten. :) When I want to make up a tin, the night before I want to deliver it, I open each of the containers and take out 1-2 of each cookie. I put that bunch in a big tupperware on the counter to thaw. The next day the cookies are ready to go! I pack them in a tin, tie a ribbon around the tin, and they are ready to deliver!! I deliver tins to neighbors, family, my husband's work, etc.

As far as the baking goes, I have a very basic oven, nothing fancy. I would love a big fancy one, but well....that ain't gonna happen! :) Here she is:

See? Nothing fancy. It does have a convection feature that I use for baking cookies which helps them to bake evenly, eliminating the need to rotate the baking sheet halfway through.

Here are some of my baking tips:
- Line your baking sheets with parchment paper. The cookies will come right off without any sticking and your sheets will be a cinch to clean.
- Use light-colored baking sheets. The darker ones will produce cookies that are too dark.
- No need for expensive baking sheets. I got great ones for $10 each at Home Goods. Just be sure they are big enough and light-colored.
- Check your cookies a few minutes before the time called for, especially the first batch. Different ovens can cook VERY differently. Cookies that take 10 min in my oven may only take 8 in yours. Nothin' worse than a burnt cookie!
- Buy a cheap oven thermometer and check your oven temp. You may be surprised that although your oven may be set to 350, it may actually be 375, or 325...always good to know!
- You must taste at least one cookie from every is very necessary. ;)
- I use a small scooper for drop cookies. It just makes life easier. I got mine at Wal-Mart.
- Stand mixers are not a necessity, but make life easier.

O.k...please let me know if there are any questions about my technique.

Next! Some of these cookies are so good they'll make ya want to smack your mama!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Some updates!

A few updates:

1. I am so excited that y'all want to see some good cookie recipes! A few people also asked about how I coordinate my baking and freezing. My next post will be about baking tips and techniques and then I will bring on the recipes!
2. I have run twice in my new shoes and LOVE them. I got Pearl Izumi Syncro Pace III at Road Runner and am in love, completely in love. They fit like a glove. Not cheap, but well worth it.
3. I finished this cute wall hanging just in time to put him up for the fall. He is now hanging in my foyer. :)

4. We got a piano!!!! I played for years when I was younger and have really missed it. I found a good used one and it was delivered last week. I am loving it! I have picked up playing again much quicker than I thought. I got a book with some Christmas tunes and have been playing them everyday. MissyMiss is also VERY interested in the piano, so I got her a beginner book and started giving her lessons. She is doing well and very enthusiastic about learning.

That is all for now. Next up....COOKIES!!!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sick and Tired...

Things here have been rough lately...lots of sickness. There has been a bug going around my daughter's school. She was sick 2 weeks ago, then Bubby was sick last week. Both had a really high fever with it and Bubby is still dealing with the cough. Neither was tested, but it was probably h1n1. I managed to not get the fever, but have had an awful cough, which was been causing me trouble with my asthma, so no running for me this past week. I went for a walk yesterday and did o.k.

So..not much to report on this front. Once I feel like I am breathing normally again I will try back to running. I am missing it. I just got some new running shoes and have really been wanting to try them out...hopefully in a few days...

In happy news, I start my Christmas baking this week! Last year I baked and froze over 12 different kinds of cookies! Then just before Christmas I deliver tins of assorted cookies to neighbors, family, husband's work, etc. I am hoping to do 13 kinds this year and am thinking of posting some of my favorite recipes. Is this something y'all would be interested in??

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Anyone else out there superstitious?

I am usually not. But...2 weeks ago before my long run I ate a half of a peanut butter sandwich, a mini kit-kat bar and drank a Capri Sun juice pouch. (Can you tell I have kids?) Anyhow...I did 6 miles that day and felt I was finally getting my mojo back.

Last weekend I had 6.5 planned. I had my same pre-run food as the previous week and had another great run.

Today I ate the same again. This time I had to go through my son's orange pumpkin full of Halloween candy to find a mini kit-kat, but I found one. And...despite being overdressed and a malfunctioning Garmin, I had another great run!

So...until it stops working, I am sticking with it as my pre-run snack. I even picked up a bag of mini kit-kats from Target tonight so I wouldn't have to steal from my kids. :)

Anyone else superstitious??