4th of July weekend

So what did we do for the 4th?

Well after more than a week with Luke’s parents we were ready for a weekend in. (More on that week to come soon.) We spent most of the weekend working on the house, working on some of those projects that take only a few hours but are hard to fit in. We also got some quiet time to just regroup together, and on our own.

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On the 4th we celebrated with burgers, local hard cider, and dessert. For the 4th this year I decided to make a new cookie (always looking for excuses to experiment). After research online I decided to make lemon thyme shortbread cookies (recipe to come). To make them festive I used a star cookie cutter.

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To complete our dessert I made a berry salad adding fresh mint from our garden, then made some whipped cream with a little vanilla and agave. It was a refreshing and light festive dessert. Maybe a new tradition? For more on this see:

https://agreenesadventures.org/2013/03/30/hot-cross-buns-and-berry-salad-a-new-easter-tradition/

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After dessert we drove over to Loon Lake to enjoy the fireworks, we got a perfect spot, closest I’ve ever been to a fireworks show.

 

Hope you had fun celebrating with friends and family for the holiday weekend.

Happy Easter 2016!

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Happy Easter everyone!

Today Luke and I will be celebrating in an untraditional way. We are traveling to New York City where we will be spending the next few days for Spring Break. This has been a trip on our bucket list for a while living on the East Coast and it’s taken us almost 4 years to get there. Plenty more on this trip’s details to come.

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So no Easter dinner of us, but I still made hot crossed buns (Luke would be upset if I didn’t). For more on this see: hot cross buns. Since we are eating these on-the-go for our spring break breakfasts I made the buns smaller and did not ice them. Instead I made cream cheese icing spread in a tupperware container to dip or spread on the buns when we eat them.

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Also, this year we did not go to a maple farm for pancake breakfast, but I did make maple cookies from local syrup like last year for our coworkers and my students to enjoy. For more on this see: https://agreenesadventures.org/2015/04/22/maple-cookies-with-cinnamon-vanilla-buttercream/

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This year I decided to not fill the cookies with cinnamon buttercream so I added cinnamon to the cookie dough directly. I also let the dough cool  before baking to help with the sticky texture. It really made it easier.

Hope you all enjoy a beautiful Spring Easter! See you in a week!

 

 

Salted Caramel Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

A long title for a very delicious cookie.

For Valentine’s this year I decided to put a twist on the traditional Peanut Butter Kiss Cookie.

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Instead of buying plain chocolate kisses I bought caramel filled kisses, this time of year they come in a pink bag and are wrapped in pink swirled foil.

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I adapted a basic Peanut Butter Kiss Cookie recipe with a few gourmet twists below:

Makes about 32-36 cookies

Ingredients:

1/4 c creamy peanut butter

1/2 stick or 4 tsb unsalted butter

3/4 C brown sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

¾-1 C all purpose flour ( I use organic)

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

36 Caramel kisses unwrapped

sea-salt and white sugar for topping or sprinkles

1/4 container vanilla pudding mix

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Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Stick the unwrapped caramel kisses in the freezer
  3. Cream peanut butter and butter until smooth
  4. Add in brown sugar and pudding mix beat until smooth
  5. Add eggs and vanilla and beat again
  6. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt
  7. Add dry ingredients to the wet slowly and beat on low speed

IMG_61568. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or slip pats and grease if needed

9. Let dough sit in the fridge for about an hour to chill meanwhile move the kisses to the fridge

IMG_615810.After an hour roll the dough into small 1-1/2 inch balls

11. Roll the balls in extra sugar/course sea salt combo

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IMG_6160 12. Place dough balls on baking sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes

13. When cookies come out of the oven give them 2 minutes to rest

14. then place a chilled caramel kiss in the center of each

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Note: Be careful when moving these cookies to a cooling rack or trying to stack them for storage, in the first few minutes after kisses are put on the cookies they will get hot and melty. My solution is to clear a place in the freezer to flash freeze the candy before packing the cookies for storage.

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These cookies were a perfect hit, both at home our jobs, they went fast. They are rich but the salt cuts the sweet and few people ate only one.

White Chocolate Ginger Snap Cookies

So my second new cookie experiment this year was a white chocolate dipped ginger cookie. I’ve always wanted to learn how to make ginger snaps and found this recipe on pintrest.

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The cookies themselves ended up taking a long time to bake, I’m guessing because of the molasses.

White chocolate can be hard to work with it can burn easily or harden quickly. So I decided to use my fondue pot to dip the white chocolate halves; the perfect solution.

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I found a sprinkles pack that had red balls, and Christmas trees. This worked out perfect to make holly. I think they were the biggest hit this year because they are so attractive and they taste great.

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Unfortunately the pictures you see are the leftovers least attractive cookies, but they taste just as good as the rest.

I do not have a modified recipe for them yet but I got the recipe from a fellow blogger Cookingclassy

Hope you are all enjoying the holiday season!

 

Maple Cookies with Cinnamon Vanilla Buttercream

In one of my flashback to March posts I wrote about how this past month we enjoyed an all you can eat pancake breakfast at a local maple syrup producer during upstate new york maple weekend.

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We bought local amber maple syrup that I was excited to use to make maple cookies. These cookies similar to a snikerdoodle have a hint of spice, perfect maple flavor, scented with vanilla, and a soft chewy texture.

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So here’s my recipe for maple cookies with cinnamon vanilla buttercream.

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Ingredients

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup packed brown sugar (3/4 C if using dark)

1 egg

1 1/2 cup real maple syrup (I used amber)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

4 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons vanilla pudding mix

Directions

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  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar.
  3. Add the egg, syrup and vanilla. Mix until well blended.
  4. Sift together the flour, salt, dry pudding mix, and baking soda.
  5. Stir the flour mix into wet mixture until well blended.
  6. Shape into 1/2 inch balls.  Note: I hand roll them and because the dough is sticky I used flour on my hands to keep the dough from sticking.
  7. Place on cookie sheets about 2 inches apart.

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Bake 9-10 minutes in the preheated oven. Let cool on wire rack. They will deflate a little after coming out of the oven.

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I made these cookies small so they would work as mini cookie sandwiches. You can make them into 1 inch balls if you do not plan on making sandwiches out of them. They will probably need 10-11 minutes in the oven.

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Once cookies have cooled you can make the Cinnamon Vanilla Buttercream. These cookies are great on their own but I thought a light butter cream would help balance out the sweet of the cookie.

Ingredients:

2 C powdered sugar

3 TBS vanilla

2 tsp cinnamon

1 C salted butter softened

Note: you can choose not to use salted butter I thought it balanced out the sweet of the maple cookies

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Directions

  1. combine all ingredients
  2. start mixer on slow then slowly increase speed
  3. let the mixer get to its highest setting for 30 seconds.
  4. put a lid on it and let it stiffen up in the fridge
  5. spoon out a tablespoon or two of frosting onto a cookie and place the other on top to make a sandwich.

Note: I would keep these cookies in the fridge or cooled until they are ready to be eaten so the icing does not melt.

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Christmas Cookies

I love to bake. If I haven’t said that on this blog yet I’ll say it again: I love to bake. I grew up looking forward to the holiday season as a chance to make cakes, cookies, and candy for friends and family. I loved sharing the kitchen with my mom helping her prep all the dessert for family get-togethers and baking them in her antique oven.

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So last year I was super excited to have my own kitchen and beautiful blue kitchen-aid mixer to bake my own holiday goodies with .But as I mentioned last week (see Tis the Season) I had very few events/people to bake for. This year I feel like I am making up for that. The cooking baking started extra early for our post-Christmas parade event (see Post-Parade Cookies and Cocoa).

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I bought dollar store tins and filled them up with cookies for friends and family. I have also brought cookies to our small group, to Luke’s work, and for a cookie competition at Luke’s work. To add to the list I have supplied several christmas parties and get togethers with an assortment of baked treats, and bagged up goodies for our neighbors, mailperson, and waste disposal workers.

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Let me share with you my top  Christmas cookies from the  baking list this year.

Easy Favorites: The Drop Cookies

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1. Christmas themed funfetti cheesecake cookies: I first made these cookies for Luke’s work to for the 4th of July and they were a big hit. (see 4th of July Funfetti cookies). These colorful, soft, and chewy cookies taste like birthday cake batter meets cheesecake with a cookie twist.

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They are easy to make using  a holiday themed cake mix, white chocolate chips, cheesecake pudding mix and decorations like sprinkles and/or food dye.  For Christmas I split the batter into two:half dyed red and the other green.  If you want to make them extra festive you can add some praline sprinkles on top before they bake.

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2. Baker’s Chocolate Sugar Cookies: I have been making these basic chocolate cookies since I found the recipe in college. They are simple to make, not too sweet, and are perfect for those chocolate lovers in the group. To me they are like a good thick brownie, meets a sugar cookie. They require some extra fridge time to get a good consistency but using baker’s chocolate, butter (not margarine), and sugar as your base they make a perfect twist on a sugar cookie.

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3. M and M pudding cookies: This is my Christmas version of the basic chocolate chip cookie. They are not the fanciest goodies I’ve made but I’ve probably eaten the most of this kind so far . This is because they have perfect soft centers, those red and green M and M’s you grew up eating, and a little extra salt  (that’s what makes them so addicting.) Plus I add in vanilla pudding mix. It is a wonderful “secret” weapon for any cookie recipe making my cookies so wonderful chewy and soft in the center .

New Experiments: 

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1. Eggnog Chai Cookies: I got this recipe from my mom from I believe Betty Crocker.  My husband is a huge eggnog fan and my newest sister-in-law is a lover of chai so I thought I’d give these a try. Eggnog Chai cookies require a little more TLC but the batter is easy using a base sugar cookie mix/recipe. The recipe included vanilla pudding mix, eggnog, and half the contents of a chai tea bag (yup you put the spices/leaves directly into the batter!)

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The cookies are flattened with cinnamon-sugar coated glass before baking. (If you leave the cookies like this they would be a great holiday twist on a snickerdoodle.) I did change the icing recipe slightly using a cream cheese based (which makes them easier to stack if they stay cold). Although I’m not a huge eggnog fan these cookies tasted like a creamy mild spice cake with just enough Christmas flavor.

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2. White Chocolate Peppermint Sugar Cookies: So I actually don’t prefer using a box mix for making cake, cookies etc, the only reason I do around the holidays is that it tends to save on time. This cookie was a completely new experiment, not from a book, not from pintrest, nowhere. I made them from scratch not really sure how they would turn out. Using my base recipe for the baker’s chocolate sugar cookies I melted 4 oz. of baker’s white chocolate with butter and white sugar. I then added the dry ingredients and Andes peppermint crunch pieces.

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White chocolate can be extremely finicky so I had to be cautious in melting the chocolate and not over cooking the cookies. But they are worth it. These cookies have a perfect creamy texture, with the right hint of peppermint. So I have submitted them to Luke’s work cookie competition and we shall see what feedback I’ll have for another year.

What are your favorite holiday sweets and treats?

 

Post-Parade Cookies and Cocoa

Can you believe we are to December? I know personally this month is going to fly by and there are so many holiday events I am looking forward to.

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Last Saturday on the tail end of November the Christmas holiday events began in the Greene house. The first Saturday after Thanksgiving Corning hosts it’s annual Parade of Lights Christmas Parade. The evening starts with the lighting of the Christmas tree and fireworks. Luke and I parked and walked down Market St. to meet up with our friends by the Christmas Tree. On the way I had noticed the floats were stationary as though they were lined up to move down a different street. I wondered if the parade route had changed since last year. When we met up with our friends we find out why: this year the parade was stationary meaning the floats stayed in one place and the rest of us moved around to view them.

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We are not sure what the purpose of this was but it is possibly  because the main bridge in an out of downtown is being rebuilt. We stood and watched both East and West high school preform at either ends of the street and looked at the stationary floats. After walking Market St. both ways we decided we were done being cold and wanted to  move on to the second part of the evening.

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This year we decided to host a Post-Parade Cookies and Cocoa open house at our home. We invited some of our co-workers and friends who were residents of Corning to come warm up after the parade at our place. I had spent most of Friday baking like crazy and decorating the house for Christmas. I made two types of cookies: funfetti cheesecake cookies I first made for 4th of July and redecorate for Christmas and another more basic cookie with red and green m and ms. I also, for the non-cookie fans made some peanut brittle using the recipe I mentioned in my November post: The Great Pumpkin.

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I finally got the chance to use a glass chip and dip set we got from our wedding registry to display the sweet treats.  I had hot water and brewed coffee along with several options for sweet warm goodness.  For the non-hot drink people there was also eggnog and milk. Because I personally love peppermint I had both peppermint drops and pink peppermint flavored marshmallows. I made some dark hot chocolate for myself and put in two peppermint drops and a hand full (or two) of the peppermint marshmallows.

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The night went well, friends and neighbors came to warm up after being in the cold, some for several hours. We sat, listened to Christmas music, and talked about upcoming movies, how our thanksgivings went, and what our holiday traditions/plans looked like for December. For a first year hosting a holiday event in our own home I think it went well.

What holiday events do you plan on hosting this winter?

Or are you hoping to avoid the responsibility of cooking and baking for the masses?