Monday, December 20, 2010

Spritz Cookie Recipe Collection

Yummy variations of a Holiday Favorite ...

Spritz Cookies
Use a cookie press to create lovely shapes in this easy, buttery cookie.

2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup butter
...1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Heat oven to 400F. In large mixer bowl combine sugar, butter, egg, salt, and vanilla. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until mixture is light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add flour. Beat at low speed, scraping bowl often, until well mixed, 2 to 3 minutes. Place dough in cookie press. Form desired shapes 1 inch apart on cookie sheets. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.

Note: You can also color the dough with food coloring, and decorate with dragées and colored sugar.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Hassle-Free Holiday

The Logistics of a Hassle-Free Holiday

(Family Features) - The holidays are supposed to be filled with love and good cheer, but the logistics of shopping for gifts, sending out cards, taking family trips and shipping packages can leave even the jolliest of people in a Scrooge-like mood.
Fortunately, there are some ways you can take the hassle out of the holidays and make them a little brighter for yourself and those around you.

Shop Smart

Avoid long lines, crowded parking lots and out-of-stock items with these helpful hints:
Get Ready - Before you head out to the mall, make a list of the gifts you want to buy and do some online price comparison. Use sites like BizRate, DealTime or Shopzilla, as well as check local ads to find the best price. You may want to call your local store to see if they have your item in stock, saving yourself a trip if they don't have it.
Shop Early - Plan to shop early in the day, and early in the season. Morning crowds tend to be lighter and sales assistants tend to be more attentive first thing. And the earlier in the season you shop, the less you have to deal with long lines and frustrated shoppers. Plus, this year, while there are 29 shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, there are only 20 shipping days.
Wrap It Up - Pay a little extra and let a charity group at the store wrap your gifts for you. This saves you time later and frees you up to get other things done - and you help a good cause.
If you do any online or catalogue shopping, avoid having packages left on your doorstep by getting a mailbox at The UPS Store. You get a mailbox with a real street address, which accepts packages from all carriers. And, you can choose to receive an e-mail or text when you have a package waiting, avoiding unnecessary trips.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

52 Loaves

Karen Landwehr hasn’t always been a baker. As a girl, she would stand by her mother’s side in the kitchen, lost in the smell of freshly baked bread. Her mother would tell her how difficult baking yeast breads could be, and Karen, who lives near the Ohio border in Highland Heights, KY, didn’t try it for herself until she was an adult. “When I finally made it, I thought ‘this isn’t so hard’,” Landwehr said.
And thus it began: her year-long quest to bake a different bread recipe every week for 52 weeks. She started with a simple sweet-roll recipe which her friends and family had come to love, but with each new recipe she tweaked an ingredient here or added a new flavor there. “It all starts with that classic sweet bread recipe,” Landwehr said. “I get new ideas for recipes from research, and sometimes they just come to me. I’ll say ‘OK, what can I do with this?’”

Kneading with the enemy

My history with bread making goes back a long way.
As a young newlywed, I loved to try the older recipes that often gave vague directions and not-so-precise measurements for ingredients. Like my grandma, teaching me how to make a pie crust. “How much water should I add?” I asked her. “You just know when it feels right,” she instructed. The potato bread recipe said to “place dough in a large bowl and let rise overnight.” I pulled out the largest bowl I had and placed the dough in it, covered it and left it on the kitchen counter. Before I went to bed that night, I went to check it out. I was shocked to find the dough had risen out of the bowl, onto the counter and was literally climbing down the side of the counter. By morning it could have eaten the whole kitchen I thought. I scooped it up and placed it on wax paper on the floor, covered it and left it till morning. Made about six loaves of bread and it was pretty good.