December 20, 2010

I'm Back -- Took a little break

I had a couple of busy days, mainly cleaning and sprucing up the house, so I haven't blogged for a few days.  Actually I intended to post something Saturday night, but I fell asleep.  Then yesterday we had church programs and an orchestra/choir concert to attend.  By the time we got home we settled in and watched the Survivor Finale episode. 

So here I am .... with 5 days to Christmas and I am just beginning my Christmas baking.  Yep.  I never bake until the week of Christmas.  Well, I shouldn't say never, as I actually started this tradition about 10 years ago.  I used to bake the first week of December and I would freeze the cookies.  Well, they were usually gone by Christmas day, which was a bummer.  I always like to serve Christmas cookies as the dessert for our Christmas meal. 

I can say something else about baking the week of Christmas, it makes the week of Christmas seem more special.  After all, it was only a couple of generations ago when the Christmas tree didn't even get put up until Christmas Eve and the baking was done a few days ahead of Christmas day.  Christmas seemed a lot more special whereas now we start putting up lights right after Halloween.  By the time Christmas arrives, I was getting a little too much Christmas.  That is why I started the Christmas baking the week of Christmas.  It works great for our family. 

Thankfully, it is freezing outside so I can store all of my cookies in tins on the back porch and they will keep well without having to make room in my freezer (which we all know doesn't have much extra room right now anyway).

Today I will begin the baking.  This year I am going to bake cookies to give away to my neighbors.  I have never done this before and I am ashamed to say that I don't know my neighbors or in many cases know them, but not very well.  I have decided to bake simple cookies along with a couple of Christmas type cookies. 

At the grocery store I snagged a great deal on Friday.  Here they are: 

These are Holiday Limited Edition Ziploc Containers.  They were on sale for only $1.25 for a package of two and I had coupons for $1.50 off two packages.  I only paid 50 cents per package or 25 cents per container.  I purchased 10 packages.  These will make great containers for the cookies I will be giving to my neighbors. 

Here is what I will be baking for our neighbors:

Tripple Chipper cookies - oatmeal cookie recipe with chocolate chips, peanut butter chips and white chips
Thumbprint cookies - I posted about those here.
Butterscotch bars - a simple brown sugar chewey cookie bar
Oatmeal Chocolate Caramel bars - these have a bottom layer of an oatmeal cookie crust, middle layer of caramel sauce and milk chocolate topped with additional oatmeal cookie dough
Snickerdoodles - a nice sugar, cinnamon cookie
Chocolate crinkles - a chocolatey cookie dough formed into balls and rolled in powdered sugar prior to baking
Brickle Bits Cookies - Heath toffee brickle bits stirred into a chocolate chip type cookie dough
White Chocolate, Macadamia/Cashew cookies - again, a chocolate chip type cookie dough with white chocolate chips and normally macadamia nuts but since I have both macadamia and cashew nuts that I need to use up, I will be putting both in the dough. 

I will have all of these finished by Wednesday and then I will package them up and deliver them on Thursday. 

On Tuesday evening, with my daughter in law's help, I will be making my semi-famous pretzel rods that have been dipped in caramel, then almond bark or chocolate, rolled in crushed M & M's candies and then drizzled with more almond bark or chocolate.

On Thursday I will be baking cut out sugar cookies and peanut butter blossom cookies for my family along with a cereal mix that is covered in almond bark and has pretzels and M & M's candies in it. 

I will definitely take pictures of everything when I am done and will post them. 

But - - I couldn't finish this post without a few of my recipes.  Here they are:

Chocolate Caramel Oatmeal Bars

2 1/4 cups flour, divided
2 cups quick cooking oats
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups cold butter or margarine (yes, 3 sticks of butter)
2 cups milk chocolate chips
1 - 12 oz. jar - caramel ice cream topping (such as Smuckers)

In a bowl, combine 2 cups flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda and salt.  Cut in butter until crumbly.  Set half aside for topping.  Press the remaining crumb mixture into a greased 9" x 13" baking pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  Sprinkle with the chocolate chips.  Whisk the caramel topping and remaining 1/4 cup flour until smooth; drizzle over the chocolate chips.  Sprinkle with the reserved crumb mixture.  Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack for 2 hours before cutting.  Yield:  4 1/2 dozen.

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies 

( I only make this cookie for a very special occasion due to the cost of the nuts.  I am always on the lookout for any sales and when I see macadamia nuts, cashews or pecans on sale, I will buy them and store them in my freezer.  This is truly a cookie that I will only make at Christmas time or to give as a gift to a new mom.)

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter (yes, 3 sticks of unsalted butter)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 Tablespoons vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 oz. white chocolate chips
6 oz. macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Cream butter and the sugars.  Add the eggs, one at a time.  Mix in the vanilla extract.  In another bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Stir into the creamed mixture and fold in the white chocolate and nuts by hand.  Drop by tablespoons - about 8 to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake for 10 minutes, just until cookies turn golden.  Don't overbake.  Cool on the cookie sheet for 3 minutes and transfer to wire rack. 

Variations:  Can use pecans or cashews in place of the macadamia nuts.


Kim said...

Oh Yum! Thank you for posting the Oatmeal Bar recipe. I think I'm going to make this on Thursday. They sound wonderful!

Martha said...


You will love these. The best part is that you don't have to unwrap caramels and melt them over the crust. I love using the Smuckers jar of topping with the added flour as it gives the same results, but is so much faster.

This is our oldest son's favorite cookie and I used to bake these and ship them to him when he was in college.

Maureen said...

Martha this post is torture to me for a couple of reasons.
1) I have no baking skills.
2) I have no time work is hectic just now.
3) Some of the ingredients I have never even heard of here in Oz.
4) I would eat them all myself and my neighbours would get none!!!!