Sunday, December 11, 2011

Xmas Wish Blisst 2011

Last year's xmas list was BIG.
Here's what I ended up with:
1. Shampure in the giant pump bottles. Check. Used 1/2 of it in one year. Great gift.
2. White hangers. Great, but by mother's day I decided to switch to the black huggable hangers, which are better because your clothes don't slide off of them.
3. Make-up mirror. Well that was just plain frightening. Back to the store it went.
4. Gift card: Always the right size. Did not find a new coat until a couple of weeks ago at Nordstrom Rack:
But what about this year? Funny that the same items are back on the list, like boots and hangers. I wanted a back rub last year, but it didn't make the list.
Sure, anyone can clip a list to the fridge.
How can I top last year's 5 foot list?
Guess I needed to THINK SMALL.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pretzel Graffiti

Trader Joe's has pretzel rolls, but I thought "that's something that you want to eat fresh out of the oven". I found a recipe from my friends at Cook's Illustrated. Love it when I have EVERYTHING I NEED and don't have to go to the store.
I had Pillsbury BREAD flour in my cupboard. I keep COSTCO's yeast sealed in the fridge. This is a least a year old and still works (or so I thought). A steal at only 3 bucks.
 Measure, mix and knead in the stand mixer. So easy.
  Dough is very dense and heavy. 
That dough ball was just asking for that. BTW, that's Jilly's face.

 First rise took a long time, 2 hours.

  Maybe the yeast is loosing it's luster. Another one hour rise.
Then time to shape. I pulled it into 2 long logs. Directions said to cut into equal pieces.
It was impossible to stretch those little balls into 20 inch long strips so I got out the pizza cutter and went to work.

Create pretzel balls by pulling dough from the top around to the bottom side to create a nice round shape. Twist to secure. 
 The secret to the dark brown crust is boiling briefly in baking soda.
 Drain on paper towels, cut star shapes into the rolls, salt and bake.

Mmmmmmm. Even better brushed with butter. This silicone basting brush is from IKEA.

Homemade pretzels just might replace popovers on xmas eve this year!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Reindeer Ravioli Revisited

In 2004, I made up a cookie for our cookie exchange at work. It was a graham cracker Hershey bar filled ravioli shaped cookie. I named it "Reindeer" ravioli because when I packaged up the slab, I used a reindeer that I had drawn on the tag. No reindeers were harmed in the making of this cookie.  
When I saw an ad on Food Network asking if anyone had unique xmas cookie ideas, I sent in a tape. You can view the video here. 
Imagine how excited I was to see Pillsbury's Reindeer Sugar "SHAPE" (not flavored) cookies at Cub Foods. Now I can make "Reindeer Reindeer" Ravioli cookies!
Here's what I did:
Slice each cookie in half with a sharp knife, being careful not to distort the design. Place rounds between plastic wrap and flatten carefully until they are about 1/8" thick. Again, don't distort the deer! Place in freezer while you make the filling.
I used Trader Joe's version of peppermint OREOs and a dab of cream cheese. Chop 'em up with an AS SEEN ON TV quik chop and use a fork to work in the cream cheese. I had thought the frosting within the cookie would be enough "glue". Add just enough cream cheese to hold it together.

Remove dough from freezer and gently pry it from the wrap. Place a flat round on the cookie sheet. Place 1 tsp of filling on round. Place another round of dough on top of filling. Press gently around filling to remove air pockets. Seal edges. You could use a round cookie cutter to clean up the shape if you want.

On its way to the oven. 
They tasted great. I only made 4 filled cookies. I'm only in the playing stage and haven't developed a full recipe yet. As some of us know playing with food  can get you here.
The rest were baked according to the package directions.

I am probably the only blogger who photographs the backs of my cookies. My mom had told me a perfect back is very important in cookie baking.

There's something really fun about a pan of cookies smiling at you. Happy holidays!