Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Year's Baking + an Attempt at Resolution Keeping

Friday is January, officially done with December, the month of holiday spirit. But before I can pack away my holiday mindset for next year, I needed to do some baking with my new pans. I'm headed up to a cottage tomorrow to usher in the new year so I thought it'd be nice to make some baked goods to take up with me. On my summer venture into Algonquin park I made "rice krispy" squares using Chocolate Lucky Charms. Not having those on hand but having regular, tried and true Lucky Charms, I melted some marshmallows and butter and made some Lucky Charm squares. The marshmallows in the cereal makes it soooo good.

I was fortunate enough to receive not one, not two, but FOUR new baking pans this Christmas. My friends Kristian and Marion bought me a 12-muffin muffin pan - this is very fitting and I got quite excited because in June Marion and I spent a good half day baking cupcakes for her engagement party and we had to use her muffin pans because I only had one that made 6. So now I can make a full dozen in one go! I also got the Oreo Cookie cake pan (love love love) which I plan on making this weekend. I received a mini-bundt cake pan from my Secret Santa in the cousin exchange (Jennieeee!!!) and John's mom got me another pan similar to the mini-bundt one but with Christmas shaped moulds. I used those two pans and whipped up a Martha recipe (from her Christmas cookbook) with some calls for over 2 cups of applesauce which I SAW in the fridge only to realize upon reaching for it that it was infact chicken broth. Rats. Anyway, improvising, I pureed a banana and some strawberries and dumped them in in lieu of the applesauce. It still tastes pretty good.
Here are my pans: Bundt on the top and the Christmas moulds on the bottom.

I sort of over-filled the christmas moulds so the bottoms of them ballooned a bit. I had to do some trimming - which explains that pile of chocolate cake bits in the bottom right hand corner.
SO - New Years is all about resolutions. Mostly resolutions that we really do intend to keep, maintain for roughly 2 weeks, and then lapse back into reality. This year I'm not kidding myself. BUT I am challenging myself.
Here are my 3 resolutions:
  1. Eat better - cut down on pop, less sugar, less junk, more fruits, veggies, and lean protein.
  2. Get super fit by July 1st - I'm talking buns of steel, a stomach so flat a level would show that bubble dead center, etc, etc.
  3. Learn to like fish and/or other seafood and eat it once every 2 weeks minimum - I really don't like seafood but it's so good for you so I'm hoping that I can learn to love it. My plan here is to try cooking it a new way everytime until I find a method that makes it taste good. Or until my tastebuds finally admit defeat and surrender.

In an attempt to kick start resolution #3, I bought cod (Jamie Oliver told me is was a meatier fish therefore not slimy and fishy), and roasted it in white wine, olive oil, salt, pepper, and lemon juice. It wasn't terrible but I didn't finish. And I had a teeny piece. That's okay though, I've got a full 365 to become fond of les fruits de mer.
I also made lemon basmati rice and a braised raddichio sidedish to accompy it slash give me something to actually eat.

The recipe for the raddichio is in the January issue of Martha Stewart but I would make some changes. I found it too vinegar-y and too strong a taste. I'd for sure reduce some of the liquids or add more chicken broth.

For the Braised Cabbage:
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Add 1-3 tbsp of olive oil to a large saucepan and sautee a diced onion until the edges of the onion begin to brown. Add 1 tbsp of brown sugar and stir.
  • Add in 1/2 cup of apple cider, 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar (not having this I used red wine vinegar), 1 cup of chicken broth, a cinnamon stick, and 1 bay leaf.
  • Cut the cabbage into eights and place into the saucepan.
  • Place a lid on the saucepan and put into the oven and braise for about 40 minutes.
  • Remove the cabbage using a slotted spoon, then simmer the remaining liquid for about 10 minutes until reduced, then use as a sauce.

    Well party people, I will keep you updated on my journey to greatness (ha-ha) for the next 6 months!

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Lovely Holiday in Ottawa

I'm home from Ottawa and I had a lovely time! It was a fun two nights of family dinners, games, and catching up. Plus a lot of oogling over the newest edition to the family: baby Leah.

The weather was also pretty good while we were there and it made it perfect for a walk into the "downtown" area to give John the tour, as he'd never been there before. There had been freezing rain on our drive there and it made the trees look beautiful:

Also during our walk about town we came across this cool looking old car. Couldn't resist taking a picture of it.

We had dinner both nights at my Aunt Wendy (hi Wendy!)'s place and it was delicious. She has really nice decorative taste too. I'm hoping to see a message on facebook with the details as to where she bought those snowflake napkin rings.

It was wonderful evening after wonderful evening and I cannot wait to do it again next year! The country Christmas gift exchange was so much fun. Some people got some great gifts and others (my poor sister) ended up with gifts they weren't too keen on. I snatched up a Slap-Chop as fast as I could but it was mercilessly stolen from me. Thankfully John got one. I walked away with a lemon saver, a hand-held zester and two books of drinking games. Very appropriate. Our cousin gift exchange worked out quite well in my favour also! I got a beautiful Coach makeup bag, an adorable ornament of a sweater on a hanger AND (drumroll please).....

...A Santa toilet seat cover. Amazing. Thank you so so so much Jennie, that picture is for you!
I'm kind of sad that Christmas is over for another year but New Years is fast approaching and I've decided that my New Years resolution is to get incredibly fit by July for my friends' wedding. I'm going to try and cut down on the cookies, candies, and baked goods that have been waaaayyy to big a part of my diet during the holidays, and I'm going to up my cardio, squats, lunges, etc. I've got 6ish months so I'm feeling very positive about this resolution.
I'm working literally all day tomorrow in a desperate attempt to make any money I can asap soooo probably no post tomorrow. But I will on Wednesday!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas and Happy Boxing Day!

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas yesterday! I sure did. I had three Christmases all rolled up into one day. In the morning I headed over to my parent's house and we opened gifts together. I got a lovely new sleeping bag, a Longchamps bag, PJs, socks (a stocking staple), jewelery, the new Audrey Niffenegger book, a jacket, a snuggie, a beauty of a sweater.... all in all it was a good haul. THEN we went to John's grandfather's house for dinner and another gift exchange. I got some really great kitchen stuff (they know me very well, obviously), including a Williams-Sonoma cookie cake pan (the one that looks like an oreo) and the cake mix to go with it from John's brother and sister. I got Lulu Lemon pants, a shirt, cozy PJs, and we also got a new laser printer from John's parents! After a delicious meal, we came back home and opened our gifts before settling in to watch Inglourious Basterds. John got me a breadmaker! Now I can delay the need to get married just to register for one. Maybe that was all a part of his plan....hmmm.... He also got me a vaccuum (not at all offensive, I asked for one and was really excited to see it!) that looks like a shark! And a Jamie Oliver recipe magazine. Woooweee. I done good this year.
Here are a few pictures from Christmas Eve at Nathan Phillips Square

We used to actually go skating before getting Chinese food but now we all just tend to watch.
Some of my gifts: My snuggie (jealous? I picked it out like back in October), my bag, my cupcake calendar, and my cake pan!

A kettle from my Nanny, my shark vaccuum cleaner, who I will call Sharkimedes, and the breadmaker!!!! I'm definitely tearing that box open when I'm home from Ottawa.

My sleeping bag: good to -12 degrees! And soft as as anything.

Well I hope everyone did as well as I did this year. I hope it was spent with friends, family, and loved ones. I'm off to Ottawa in a few hours to spend a few days with more family so I won't be posting for a few days.
Back on Monday -
Merry Christmas :)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

1 Day 'Til Christmas! (Day 24)

It's Christmas Eve!!!
Potentially my favourite day of the entire year. Even more preferable than my birthday. The anticipation of waiting for Santa, the tradition of skating (or looking at the skaters and huddling to keep warm in recent years) and chinese food downtown, being with my family and feeling so at peace...I love everything about it.
For today's recipe, I was reminded of this by episode 9 of Dexter (season 4) where they're preparing their Thanksgiving dinner. Rita's looking for oven space and she's holding a dish of candied yams.
Now, I don't know how popular a dish this is but I had it last year for the first time and oh. my. gosh. were they amazing. John's aunt made them for Christmas dinner last year and being afflicted with a sweet tooth these were right up my alley. At first glance they make look like a weird, gross combination of flavours but please, give it a try. On searching for a recipe I found them listed also as White Trash Yams but that is mean and demeans their deliciousness.
So, ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you....(drumroll)....
Candied Yams

To make this masterpiece you will need:
  • Sweet potatoes
  • 1/4 cup od butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
  1. Preheat oven the 400 degrees and bake the sweet potatoes for about 45 mins.
  2. Let the sweet potatoes cool and then mash them with the brown sugar and maple syrup.
  3. Place the mashed sweet potatoes into a medium sized baking dish. Distribute the butter pieces evenly over the potatoes, then top with the marshmallows.
  4. Bake uncovered for about 10-15 mins, the enjoy!

Ok Christmas people, have an AMAZING Christmas Eve however you spend it. I will attempt to post tomorrow but goodness knows I'll be a busy girl opening presents and what not.


and because it's here :)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

2 Days 'Til Christmas! (Day 23)

Jersey Boys last night was amazing! I highly recommend it to anyone looking to go hear some good music and be entertained. Our dinner also went off with only a few glitches. We overestimated how much time we would have so we had to cut back on the fancy presentation of the salad, my cookie name place holders didn't quite work out as expected as the dough wouldn't get hard enough in time....and my bouche looked less like a log of wood and more like a log of....well...
Anyway here is what our beautiful holiday table looked like:

And the name place holders.... my mom's ('Patti') was the only one that was remotely legible. The cookies tasted great though!
My somewhat gross looking bouche de noel:

The ganache icing hardened in the fridge and I forgot to wipe the plate before that. Looks like poop (literally) but tastes like heaven. Oh man, not to toot my own horn but the chocolate mouse rolled up in it is so good. Mmmmm. And I put little marshmallows on the top and burned them with my brulee torch.

Right now I'm baking the panettone bread pudding for a christmas party! It smells really good.

Ok, I gotta try and squeeze in one more episode of Dexter before I leave. :)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

3 Days "Til Christmas! (Day 22)

Big day today, and tomorrow, and Thursday, and Friday, and Saturday through to Monday! I am so ready for this holiday blitz!
Tonight, as I mentioned yesterday, John and I are joining my family to see Jersey Boys! We're having them over for dinner first and operations in the kitchen are underway. Instead of printing those Cardinal name place holders (from a few days ago), I'm baking cookies and using the new cutters that I got to put every person's name into the cookie. I'm using those as place holders. I think it's a cute idea.
Tomorrow we're heading over to the ROM to check out the dead sea scrolls before they leave Toronto. I'm excited and I also really want to go see the Tut exhibit at the AGO. But that can wait for another day. Also tomorrow night John's good friend is hosting her annual "Questmas" party so we're heading over to that. I might make more cookies....I don't know. I'll have to get a good hostess gift.
Today I thought I'd give you another recipe to try as I don't have pictures of my desert or place holders just yet...because they're not even nearly done.
My Nanny makes this delicious Fudge and I've tried and tried and tried to make it but have only done so once successfully. I do have a candy thermometer now and I think that was the thing that was holding me back from greatness. I could never quite make it to the hard ball stage either because I had the heat on too high or I was too impatient. The result was fudge juice. It really only ever set once and even then I think it was more because it froze rather than set....
But regardless.
This fudge makes for a nice gift and if you have a candy thermometer you will be just fine!
(I tried to make this exact recipe once before as well but ended up burning the pot so keep an eye on your candy)
Irish Cream Fudge
You will need:
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup white sugar
    3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup Irish Cream liqueur
  • 2 1/4 cups icing sugar, sifted
  1. Grease an 8-inch square pan and line with parchment paper so that it hangs over the sides.
  2. Stir evaporated milk, brown sugar, white sugar, butter and salt in a heavy-bottomed saucepot. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often, and cook until 238 °F (use a candy thermometer to gauge).
  3. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and Irish Cream and scrape into a bowl or mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low speed or electric beaters, add in the icing sugar in three additions, mixing well after each addition.
  4. Scrape fudge into prepared pan and let cool completely before slicing.
Thank you, Anna Olson.

I'll post tomorrow with pictures from the dinner party.

AND since we're getting here

Monday, December 21, 2009

4 Days 'Til Christmas! (Day 21)

Oh my, I almost forgot to blog again today! I've watched 3 episodes back to back to back of season 4 of Dexter. That show is so good. I finally got up to do the dishes and clean up a little. John and I are off tomorrow night to see Jersey Boys with my family and we're hosting a small dinner party for them before hand. John's taking care of pretty much the entire meal and I'm going to do desert. I did attempt to make a bouche de noel but it's not iced yet so I may do that tomorrow. It didn't roll properly but it does taste delicious. I also bought a panettone so I might make a panettone bread pudding too....decisions, decisions!
Here's my table setting so far. It's very preliminary as I have all day tomorrow to tidy and set up. Please note my napkin rings. Bought them in October. Waaaaaay before Halloween at the William Ashley sale. Thanks Marion for taking me along! I mean they're not the nicest napkin rings but when you get 12 of them for $3.50...
The table cloth is from dollarama and is covering our nicer table cloth that matches the napkins. Thank you John's mom.
Now, John has a good friend named Adam. If you ever have a party, invite this guy. He is polite, good fun, and he brings host/hostess gifts. The picture above is what he brought for me. This guy obviously knows me. I was all set to make some of these cookies but I have about 1/4 cup of flour left so they will have to wait until tomorrow. I'm pretty sure these cookie cutters are Williams Sonoma. Gosh I love that store.

In other news, I am more or less completely finished my christmas shopping! My sister (who is now determined to learn fluent french) and I went and bought our dad's gift today and I also picked up my gift for my secret santa in our family's cousin-gift-exchange. I want to supplement it a bit more though. Maybe something from the LCBO.

AND because I feel compelled to provide you with a recipe or a craft or anything other than my ramblings, here are some ideas for host/hostess gifts if you should find yourself hitting up a Christmas or Holiday party sometime this week!

*All of these are available for under $25:

Williams Sonoma Peppermint Bark
The rest are from Kitchen Stuff Plus:

This bar set is awesome. We have one.
Cookie cutters. Basic and great if your host is a baker.

Complete wine tool kit.

Til tomorrow! I'll let you know what desert I decide on.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

5 Days 'Til Christmas! (Day 20)

5 more days! 5 more days! 5 more days! Ohhhh man Christmas is so close I can taste the turkey! The sweater party yesterday evening was a HUGE success. It definitely topped last year's celebration. The food was delicious and was a big hit. I owe a big thanks to Conor as he suggested less sweet and more savoury this year. We cut the cookies, etc down to one table and made meatballs, sausage rolls, pita and amazing hummus that Marion made, tortilla chips and dip that Monica made, plus a cheese platter of goat cheese with cranberry and cinnamon, and a brie and a brie en croute. There was nothing left but crumbs.

I also made use of all the amazing decorations I got from the dollarstore.
Oh AND my ebay sweater came. I'll save my homemade one for next year.
And as is tradition (which began last year), we got a group shot. I love the group shot.

To raise money for the Daily Bread Food Bank I crafted a stripping Santa - you better believe the prospect of Santa stripping down to his skivvies really got people's wallets loosened up. I think we raised a grand total of about $205. I'm happy!

And just for good measure, that's what John's sweater said. Love it.

Ohhhh now I'll have to brainstorm some amazing ideas for next year to try and top yesterday's party!

6 Days 'Til Christmas! (Day 19-ish)

I was doing so well with posting everyday and then in the 11th hour (almost) I let it slip. But I did have my Bad Sweater Party yesterday so I was literally on the go from the moment I woke up. I got up around 8:30, went to Costco with my mom and John for last minute stuff, then got home and went to the party room with John to set everything up. Then I had to go pick my sister up from the airport (she had been in Cuba - she's so dark) and come back and decorate cookies. My friend and neighbour was kind enough to come over and help me decorate the sugar and gingerbread cookies. They looked so darling:

I was also very fortunate to have so many friends willing to help out this year. Aside from my neighbours who did SO much for me (I got 'em a gift, may slip it under their door tomorrow), I had friends bring cookies, cakes, cupcakes, dip... it was fantastic. Here are just a few of the delicious baked goods that were brought over:

Michelle's sugar cookies

Tracy's Strawberry Crumble Muffins

Danielle's Cake Boss cake. I didn't want anyone to cut into this....but they did. And the cake was delicious.

Monica's macaroons (the chocolate cookies), Conor's mom's chocolate chip cookies (in the cylindrical container), and Mike's carrot cake (bottom)

I made some Royal Icing for the first time ever - after my search for powdered meringue has been proved fruitless. The recipe I used was easy and the icing dried very hard and quickly but it wasn't thick enough when I was putting it on so I would recommend adding more icing sugar. All you have to do is mix together:
2 cups icing sugar
2 egg whites
Now I must post again for today!

Friday, December 18, 2009

7 Days 'Til Christmas! (Day 18)

A week! That's all that you have left to finish your baking, your shopping, your gift wrapping, etc. For some reason this year I can only wrap 3 presents at a time before getting frustrated. I think it's because I have ALL of them in one small corner and they overwhelm me. I'm almost done though, only a few more to wrap.
So I am officially on holidays! I started this morning with Martha and Rachael Ray then made some focaccia bread and sugar cookie dough.
The bread is easy and tasty so I'm posting the recipe for y'all:
Sun-Dried Tomato Focaccia Bread

  1. In a bowl, sprinkle 1 tsp of granulated sugar over 1 cup of warm water. Add 1 pkg of active dry yeast (about 2 1/4 tsp) and let stand for about 10 minutes until the mixture looks frothy.
  2. Mix in 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp honey, 1 tsp salt, and 2 tbsp cornmeal. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until soft and elastic. Most recipes say to do this for upwards of 10 minutes but if you've ever kneaded dough you know that it really truly is an arm workout. I have never kneaded dough for 10 minutes. I've probably never kneaded dough for longer than 3, maybe 4 minutes so don't feel obliged to go the full 10 unless you want ABSOLUTELY perfect, recipe-proven results.
  3. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand in a warm, dry place for about 45 minutes until doubled in size.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees . Punch dough down and knead in 3/4 cup of sun-dried tomatoes (use ones packed in oil, otherwise soak them in warm water for about 10 minutes first) then let the dough rest for 5 mins. Shape the dough into a rectangle and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Let rest for another 15 mins, covered with plastic wrap.
  5. Press finger-tips into the dough to create the dimples then drizzle olive oil and coarse salt over the dough.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes, then pull the bread out and sprinkle on the remaining 1/4 cup of sun-dried tomatoes. Bake for another 10 minutes.
  7. Let cool, then cut and enjoy!

I also have yet to receive my ebay sweater (angry face) but I contacted the seller and she was so nice. She said that there had been a lot of reported mail-thefts in her area as of late and she went to the post office to check for me....long story but anyway I had to start making my own. I've been cutting out felt creations since last night and sewing them on. I'm not done yet though. Here's what I have so far:

I don't know what to put on the other side of the front....

I'm sewing these on and not gluing them because I want to keep this sweater and it'll make it easier to cut the decorations off later. Maybe Santa's naughty/nice list on the other side? Could be difficult to make though....

The party is tomorrow so I will be a busy bee but I will still post.
And now I must go get dressed! I'm going shopping for my bridesmaid dress today! Hurray!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

8 Days 'Til Christmas! (Day 17)

It becomes painfully obvious when I am done exams because I do things like that (above). I mean, why not? And who needs photoshop when you can create masterpeices like that using Microsoft paint???

So I did some crafting today when I returned from my exam this morning. I did the yule logs using the template that I posted a few days ago. They're SO easy to make and look SO good. I haven't made 'em sparkle yet but their time will come. Here they are:

Again, all you need is some toilet paper rolls/paper towel rolls (the template will print PERFECTLY sized for a toilet paper roll though), glue, and this template.

Upon browsing the templates on the Martha website, I came across a few others that I definitely want to use.

I also made a recipe that I posted around Halloween - the invisible lollipops!

They're easy to make BUT they harden really fast so if I do them again I'd for sure get a helper to put the sticks and candies in while I poured out the syrup. And they obviously don't pour into perfect circles.

The ones at the bottom are some of the ones I didn't get a stick into fast enough and didn't want to waste a stick if it was just going to fall out. I did manage to press some candy into them though.
P.S. these are sticky and will stick to your teeth like nobodies business so don't chew.
You can link to the website recipe, but all you need to do is heat 2 cups of sugar and 2/3 cup corn syrup up to a boil and then let the mixture boil until it hits 300 degrees (get a candy thermometer-seriously. I've burnt many a pot without one and ruined a number of fudge attempts).

Oh, I found Santa last year. He was hanging outside a convenient store in my neighbourhood.

Lastly, the Olympic torch is passing by my area tonight so I'm going to go down and try to snap a picture! I wanna carry it one day.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

9 Days 'Til Christmas! (Day 16)

9 more days...holy moly. And this Saturday is my Sweater Party! So excited. I went to the dollarstore today and picked up some decorations but I still want more... it's a big, bare room.
Anyway, thought today I'd provide another recipe that goes well at parties. I make one of these (the cranberry one) pretty much at least once a year. It's easy, it's fancy looking, and it gives you the freedom to personalize it with almost any flavour you want.
Cheese Balls

For the basis of the balls you will needto mix together:
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 packages cream cheese (8 ounces each)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 5 dashes hot sauce (such as Tabasco)
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  1. Divide the mixture evenly into 3 portions and place in seperate bowls.

Cheddar Cheese and Cranberry

  1. To the first bowl, add 8 ounces of shredder sharp cheddar cheese, 2 tbsp chutney, and 3/4 cup dried cranberries.
  2. Place the mixture into saran wrap and shape into a ball. Roll the ball in more dried cranberries to coat the outside then put the ball in the fridge to set.

Roquefort and Walnut

  1. To the second bowl, add 6 ounces Roquefort cheese, 1 minced scallion, 2 tsp of brandy, and 1 cup chopped toasted walnuts.
  2. See step 2 above.

Goat Cheese and Scallion

  1. To the 3rd bowl, add 8 ounces of goat cheese, 2 tbsp finely minced scallions, and 1/3 cup finely chopped parsley.
  2. See step 2 from first cheese ball.

*I actually prefer to make a mix of 2 and do a Cranberry & Goat Cheese ball. It's so good. I'd make the walnut would if I could eat 'em. You know what else goes very well with goat cheese? Figs. Roasted figs....mmmmmm

I thought, too, that I would post some pictures from The Bad Sweater Party's of previous years.
Year 1 (2006) - I kept that sweater. It's quite nice.
Year 2 (2007) - I made my own that year. Bought a plain one and decorated the sh*t out of it. I even had a tree out of a kind of tassled trim. Fantastic.

Year 3 (2008) - I love these sweaters. I think my sister just wears that one every year. I wouldn't be surprised if she brought it out again this time around.

Anywhoooo I want to attempt to either make some lollipops tonight or some stained glass cookies. Didn't get around to the bouche de noel today. Maybe tomorrow...?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

10 Days 'Til Christmas!!!! (Day 15)

Extra exclamation points today because we are officially in the home stretch to Christmas. Oh Holy Night, we're so close.

I'm stepping up my game today, partly because of the 10 day thing, partly because I have an exam at 2 today and I need a good excuse to take a break from studying.

On Today's Agenda:
  1. An amazing craft

  2. A visually pleasing and looks-more-difficult-than-it-is recipe

  3. Ideas for decorating cakes, cupcakes, cookies, etc.

First up is the craft. I almost went into a frenzy when I saw this craft because I have been trying to make a mantel peice garland for my window sill but had no idea where I could get birch bark other than ripping it off trees, which is not ideal for the environment or my criminal record. Martha, that beautiful women/her minions has provided us with a template!

Yule Log Favour Boxes

All you will need is empty toilet paper rolls or paper towel rolls, glue, and this template. Also mayhap some sparkles if you're feeling adventurous and want to give them a snowy look.

You can find the template here or if that doesn't work go here and click on the link (click on tools and materials and it'll show up).

I will be making this craft, probably tomorrow, so I'll post pictures once it's done.

Next: The recipe -
Stained Glass Cookies

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together 4 cups of flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, and set aside
  2. Cream 1 cup (2 sticks) butter and 2 cups granulated sugar until fluffy. Add 2 eggs and 2 tsp vanilla and beat until combined. Add flour mixture. Divide the dough in half, shape each half into a circle, and wrap in plastic. Chill for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.
  3. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Working with one piece of dough at a time, on a well-floured Silpat (a French nonstick baking mat), roll out dough to a rectangle slightly thicker than 1/8 inch. Chill for 10 minutes. Gather together scraps and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate dough before rerolling.
  4. Cut out dough with large cookie cutters then use smaller cookie cutters to cut out shapes in the center of the cookie. Place the cookies onto a tinfoil-lined baking sheet. The tinfoil makes it easier to peel the cookies off without damaging the stained glass center.
  5. Fill in the cut outs with candy (e.g. jolly ranchers or something similar) that you have crushed. I find the best way to do this is to put them in a ziplock bag and then beat them mercilessly with a rolling pin or hammer. You will likely pop the bag so don't hit it too hard :)
  6. Bake until crisp but not darkened, about 15-18 minutes. Once cookies are cool, careful peel the tinfoil from the back of them and ta-da! You've got stained glass cookies.

Last, here are some fun ideas for decorating your baked goods. I want to get my hands on some fondant so as soon as I figure out where to go I'll pass along that info. I know Michael's has it but there isn't one close to me :(

Ok, now I really have to go cram.
But this is the last exam I care about! Hurray!