Christmas Cookie Round-up 2012

Haul out the holly! It’s time for a holly, jolly holiday!

(10 points to anyone who can guess which Broadway musical I am referencing)

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Yesterday, I invited a few friends over for a Christmas party. Being the over-achiever that I am, and not wanting to put anyone out with my dietary restrictions, I decided to make all the cookies myself. I heated up my little apartment with the stove going all day as I rolled and mixed and sprinkled powdered sugar & cinnamon. It was like Christmas exploded in my kitchen!32401_10101635107712882_1324212968_n

Confession: I have an almost compulsive need to completely clean the kitchen between baking each kind of cookie. I put all of the ingredients away, wash and dry the bowls and spoons and return them to their respective cupboards, and wipe down the counters. Then, I recenter myself, pull out the needed ingredients, and start on the next cookie. Some might call it obsessive. I prefer to think of it as organized.

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Anywho… I went through my cookie recipe archives and pulled out a few of my favorites. The star of the evening? Definitely the Vegan Mexican Wedding Cookies, which we discovered have about 5 other names, depending on which country you hail from. (ie Russian Tea Cookies, German Pfeffernussen…. the list goes on) Whatever you chose to call them, they are delicious!

I also found a recipe for homemade Cinnamon Ornaments. With only three ingredients, cinnamon, applesauce, and cloves, they are incredibly easy and make fun gifts for party attendees!

Now, strap on that apron, put on your Santa hat, and get baking!

(Hint: Click on the cookie name to see the recipe.)

Vegan Mexican Wedding Cookies

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Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

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Chocolate Peanut Butter No Bake Cookies

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Mint Chocolate Fudgie Babies

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Cinnamon Ornaments

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Cacao Nib Meringues

Colorado is a notoriously difficult state for bakers.

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Recipes must be tweaked to include more liquid (or less flour, whichever you prefer), extra leavening agents, and increased oven temperatures. Baking in the high altitude and dry climate is enough to intimidate even the most seasoned of bakers, not to mention a gluten-free one, at that!

Before moving here from Florida, I did quite a bit of research on the changes that would need to be made to my recipes, and, thankfully, the transition hasn’t been nearly as difficult as I had imagined. In fact, Colorado has allowed me to bake something Florida would never have allowed, Meringues!!!!

Meringues are fluffy, pillows of whipped egg whites and sugar that require a rather dry climate in order to be baked. The inherent Florida humidity that wreaked havoc on my naturally curly hair would have also wreaked havoc on the meringues’ texture. Too much moisture in the air ruins any possibility of accomplishing the hollow, crumbly interior of a true meringue. Colorado, however, is practically Saharan in comparison, and the perfect climate for baking meringues.

My first attempt turned out to be a winner! I used the below recipe, courtesy of the incomparable Joy the Baker, substituting an ingredient or two here and there. Since I do not keep white sugar in the house, I used turbinado sugar, which gave my cookies a darker color than traditional meringues. The taste? Perfection!

Now separate those egg whites and “whip it! Whip it good!”

Cacao Nib Meringues

(Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

adapted from Joy the Baker – Vanilla Bean and Cacao Nib Meringues

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Ingredients:

  • 3 large Egg Whites, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup Turbinado Sugar
  • 1 tsp Bourbon Vanilla Extract
  • pinch of Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Cream of Tartar
  • 3 Tblsp Cacao Nibs

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. In a small bowl, combine turbinado sugar and vanilla extract. Set aside.
  4. Using a stand mixer, whip egg whites on medium speed until frothy.
  5. Add salt and cream of tartar and increase speed to medium-high. Beat until egg whites are at the soft peak stage. Egg whites will be very frothy with small bubbles.
  6. Slowly add the sugar/vanilla mixture to the egg whites, increase the mixer speed to high, and whip until stiff, glossy peaks form. Egg whites will be “spoonable”.
  7. Remove bowl from the stand mixer and gently fold in the cacao nibs.
  8. Spoon 2 heaping Tblsp of egg white mixture per cookie onto parchment lined baking sheet. Should equal about 12 cookies.
  9. Bake in preheated oven for 60-70 minutes until lightly browned and hollow sending when lightly flicked with a finger.
  10. Cool completely before removing from the parchment paper.

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

We have been having crazy snow storms here in Colorado! It is so much fun!!! 
GF Guy and I haven’t been shrinking violets and hunkering down inside to wait out the storm. No sir! Instead, we went to the ballet last night and took Dickens out for a romp in the snow this afternoon. He LOVES the snow!
After all that running around, we tumbled back into the house in search of a sweet treat. I pulled a few ingredients out of the cupboard and set to work making one of our favorite cookies. This recipe only calls for 3 ingredients, but tastes like a million bucks! It is just the thing to enjoy with a cup of hot cocoa on a cold, winter day!
Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies
(Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)

Ingredients:

  • 1 large Egg
  • 1 cup Sugar, plus 1/4 cup
  • 1 cup Peanut Butter

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. (375 degrees for high altitude)
  2. In a bowl, combine 1 egg, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup peanut butter until smooth.
  3. Form dough into ping-pong size balls and roll each ball in the extra 1/4 cup sugar.
  4. Place dough balls on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  5. Bake about 9 minutes. 
  6. Cool 3 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a cooling rack.

No-Bake Crack Cookies….

TODAY IS THE LAST DAY TO HELP ME

WIN A TRIP TO ITALY!!!!!!!!! 
This contest, sponsored by Jovial Foods is for the trip of a lifetime! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE take a second to click on this link and vote for me (Katrina, #9)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

These cookies are ridiculously addictive! Upon sampling one, I immediately dubbed them “crack cookies”. Super simple to make with relatively healthy ingredients, I think Santa will love these. Not to mention, he could use some more whole grains in his life. (Just sayin’…) 

A pinch of Cayenne gives these cookies a grown-up twist and a delightful little kick, almost like a Mexican Hot Chocolate. Feel free to omit it, but I recommend trying it at least once. You may be surprised!

In other news, Dickens is super excited for Christmas! 😉

Chocolate Peanut Butter No-Bake Cookies
(Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Vegan)

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup pure Maple Syrup
  • 1/4 cup Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Substitute
  • 5 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 cup certified Gluten-Free, Old-Fashioned Oats
  • 1/2 cup Peanut Butter
  • 1 tsp pure Vanilla Extract

Directions:

  1. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, melt together the syrup and Earth Balance. Add the cocoa powder, cinnamon, & cayenne and bring to a low boil.
  2. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients. Stir until evenly coated.
  4. Drop by spoonful onto a baking sheet lined with wax paper.
  5. Refrigerate until firm.

Grandma Would Be Proud -or- The Christmas Cookie Revenge….

Happy 2011!
I’ve been super busy with work and GF Guy coming home that, no offense, blogging hasn’t exactly been at the top of my list.
I have a stack of product reviews waiting to be written (okay, it’s only 2, but they are staring at me!!!), new recipes to share with you, and lots more going on in this curly little head of mine.
I spent New Year’s with GF Guy in Ft. Lauderdale where we danced and laughed the night away with the cast of Rock of Ages. 
Erika, writes a blog about life on the road called It’s Just the Road. Check it out for some great life lessons and musings from an awesome and talented chica!
Good times had by all! I’m going back this coming weekend and to Orlando the next weekend… I’m practically a ROA Groupie!
I finally got the Christmas tree down and the decorations put away. Now, I’m going to try to pump out a new blog post for the next few nights before heading out of town again. 
I am particularly proud of this next cookie recipe. Last year, I tried, and failed miserably, to recreate my Grandmother’s famous Sand Tart cookies. Not one to simply accept defeat, I made another attempt this year.
BOO-YA!!! I DID IT!!!!
My dad even approved, which was a big deal. 
Warning: these little buggers are a bit time intensive. Consider yourself warned! 🙂
Gammy’s Sand Tarts
(Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Nut-Free)

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Using an electric mixer or Kitchenaid, cream together the shortening and sugar until fluffy. Add the 2 of the eggs and beat until incorporated. Add the flours and baking poser and beat until combined. 
  2. Divide into 4 equal pieces, wrap in saran wrap, and place in the refrigerator overnight.
  3. The next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Place remaining egg and a bit of water in a small bowl and beat lightly to form an Egg Wash.
  5. Dust a large surface with Tapioca Starch and remove one dough ball from the refrigerator.
  6. Place unwrapped, chilled dough on tapioca dusted surface and dust dough and a rolling pin with Tapioca Starch.
  7. Roll dough veeeeerrrrry thin, as thin as possible and cut into shapes with metal cookie cutters. Using a thin metal spatula, place on prepared baking sheet.
  8. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush cookies with Egg Wash and decorate with sprinkles.
  9. Bake in preheated oven 9-11 minutes until crispy and lightly golden on the edges. Be careful! They burn easily!
  10. Allow to cool a few minutes on baking sheet before moving to a wire cooling rack.
Do you have a special holiday recipe you are trying to convert? Let me know if I can help!

Christmas Cookie Time….

Who says Cranberries are just for Thanksgiving?

AND/OR

Who still has leftover Cranberry Sauce?


Waste not, want not and tackle your holiday baking in one fell swoop!
Cranberries are naturally the perfect color for the holidays. Which is of utmost importance to a “girly-girl” like myself!  They are also powerful, antioxidant packed super-berries with health benefits to boot! 
This holiday season, consider making these gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free Cranberry Jam Dots! They are made with a GF Cookie Mix by Namaste Foods for convenience, BUT… trust me, Santa will never know they came from a box!

Cranberry Jam Dots

(Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Nut-Free)

 

Ingredients: 

  • 2 large, organic Eggs

    – 1/2 cup Oil

    – 2 Tblsp Water

    – 1/2 tsp ground Ginger

    – 1tsp ground Cinnamon

    – 1 14oz can Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce (or leftover Cranberry Sauce) 


    Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

      2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, and water.

      3. Ad the dry ingredients and stir until well combined, mixture will seem a bit dry.

      4. Roll dough into tablespoon size balls and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

      5. Using your thumb, make an indentation in the center of each cookie.

      6. Place about 1 teaspoon of cranberry sauce in each indentation.

      7. Bake about 13 minutes until set and light gold in color.

      8. Allow to cool on a wire baking rack.

Fa-La-La-La-Fantastic!….

HAPPY DECEMBER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


This month is going to be Fa-La-La-La-Fantastic! It seems as if winter came overnight with the sudden chill in the air this morning! It makes me want to pull out my crock pot, make some soup, and snuggle under a blanket while watching The Grinch Who Stole Christmas!
The holidays are also a wonderful excuse to bake!

Let’s be serious. Who doesn’t love cookies?

Okay… maybe reindeer don’t, but get them organic carrots and leave the cookies for Santa!

To celebrate the season, December is all about Christmas Treats!

 These delicious cookie bars taste like decadent Andes Mints and have been a huge hit at home and work! Even people who claim not to like mint/chocolate combos can’t stop raving! So… hop to it, and make these cookies!
 
Grasshopper Cookie Bars 
(Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Nut-Free)

Ingredients
BOTTOM LAYER

MIDDLE LAYER

GLAZE

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Grease and flour a large jelly roll pan, or cookie sheet with an edge. 
  3. In a large bowl, cream together the agave, Earth Balance, and eggs. Add the vanilla and mix well.
  4. Stir the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, and salt together in a small bowl, then add to the wet mixture a little at a time. Mix well.
  5. Spread the mixture evenly in the prepared pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the middle is just set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
  6. Make the middle layer: In the bowl of the stand mixer, mix together the powdered sugar, Earth Balance, and Creme de Menthe. Spread all over the chocolate bottom layer, and then put the pan in the refrigerator.
  7. Make the glaze: In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the chocolate chips and Earth Balance together, stirring continuously until combined. Allow to cool slightly, and then spread all over the top of the mint layer. 
  8. Put the pan back in the refrigerator and allow to chill thoroughly. Cut into small squares and keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

A Holiday Head Start….

In anticipation of holiday leftovers, I have begun playing around with some new recipes!
Not one to simply rest on my laurels, I decided to challenge myself. This afternoon was all about gluten-free, vegan cooking with unusual gluten-free flours! Now, I know what you’re thinking, “since when has Quinoa Flour been considered ‘usual’?”  I guess that is a matter of perspective. My kitchen has never even seen “normal” all-purpose flour, so, in our house, Quinoa Flour is a rather blase’ ingredient! Be that as it may, I had a grand old time rolling up my sleeves and getting down and dirty with some new-er ingredients!
This recipe will come in handy after Thanksgiving as a way of using up leftover Cranberry Sauce AND as a way of getting a head start on your Christmas cookies! Have fun!
Cranberry Chestnut Cookies
(Gluten-Free, Vegan)
Yield: 5 1/2 dozen



Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Chestnut Flour
  • 1 cup Sorghum Flour
  • 1/2 cup Tapioca Starch
  • 2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 Tblp Flax Seed Meal + 3 Tblsp Warm Water
  • 1/2 tsp Ginger
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
  • 3/4 cup Non-hydrogenated Organic Shortening (Spectrum brand)
  • 1 cup Agave Nectar
  • 1/4 cup Molasses
  • 1/2 cup canned Whole Berry Jellied Cranberry Sauce (or homemade)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients, except for the cranberry sauce.
  3. Blend well.
  4. Stir in the cranberry sauce and mix thoroughly.
  5. Chill dough at least 1 hour.
  6. Place on a baking sheet by rounded spoonful.
  7. Bake 13-15 minutes.
  8. Allow to cool on a wire cooling rack.

Twins!!!….

You know the old saying “two is better than one”? Well, get ready for a double play because here comes new fudgie baby #2! This recipe arose from a need to use a bunch of the ingredients in our pantry. We are moving in a few weeks. The less food the better! There are certain ingredients that I always feel a rush of victory upon using up. Coconut Oil, Tahini, Molasses, Maple Syrup, Xanthum Gum… these are all ingredients that seem to take FOREVER for me to use up because I use them in such small amounts. In fact, until this year I had never gone through an entire container of any of these ingredients! …Probably because I never lived in one place long enough…. But all that is about to change. I can’t believe we just bought a “Forever” Home!!!!!!!!!!!! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!! I AM SO EXCITED!!!!!!!!!!!! We are meeting with a flooring guy on Wednesday to discuss re-carpeting the bedrooms and tiling the kitchen. We are also discussing paint colors and changing around certain aspects of the kitchen to give it a more open feel. Then, it’s reupholstering the sofa and painting the walls…….. You really don’t want to get me started. Okay… focus Katrina… on to the recipe!

Bahama Breeze Fudgie Babies
Ingredients:
– 1 cup Golden Raisins
– 1 cup Pecans
– 2 teaspoons Ginger
– 1 teaspoon Nutmeg
Combine all ingredients in a food processor until a ball forms.
Pinch off walnut size pieces and roll into ball shapes.
Freeze about 15 minutes before serving. (personal preference)
So…. How was your Monday? Do you have any exciting plans for this week?
GF Guy and I are going to see a production of Godspell on Wednesday, an improv comedy show on Thursday, and going to a graduation on Friday. Then we go to West Palm for my little sister’s graduation and off to the Bahamas on a cruise with the fam! It’s going to be one whirlwind of a week!

A New Baby….

Last night I got bored. So…. I made up 2 new raw dessert recipes, a new entree, a new side dish, AND a new corn bread recipe! I don’t know why I was so bored. I should really be able to simply “be” after such a hectic couple of weeks. Saturday morning I was up at 5:30am to set up for the Autism Speaks Walk for Autism. After that was over, GF Guy and I decided to play! We went hunting for new furniture for our new home and got some good ideas. Then, we went to the Ray’s baseball game and staid after for the ZZ Top concert. ZZ Top was AMAZING! You know how some bands, when they get older, kind of lose it. Not ZZ Top! They were rockin’ it like none other! We love kickin’ it old school! We arrived home after midnight and I slept in until 9:30am on Sunday! Then it was church and Tita’s. We got home from Tita’s around 5:00 and I really wanted to go clothes shopping. Sadly, no one was available to go with me… So… that is how I ended up in the kitchen. THE END! Enjoy this recipe!

Pumpkin Pie Fudgie Babies
Ingredients:
– 1 cup Pumpkin Seeds
– 6 to 7 Medjool Dates, pitted
– 1 tablespoon Cinnamon
– 1 tablespoon Coconut Oil
Process in your food processor until a ball forms. 
Pinch off walnut size pieces and roll into small ball shapes.
Freeze 15 minutes before serving. (That’s just my preference. You may eat them immediately or simply refrigerate them if you like.)
These are my new favorite! They taste just like a homemade LaraBar! Seriously, you must make them!
How do you unwind after a hectic week?