Tuesday, November 27, 2012


I will be blowing up everyone's feed with posts this week, so please be prepared. We're starting this post with a Cuteness Alert!!! Kensi is making so many more noises now, but she's starting to mimic some of our noises too. My favorite so far is 'mmmmm'. She makes it so stinkin' cute! We had Little Bear on tv the other day and they made a pie, and what did Kensi do when they asked if it was good?..."mmmmm". Oh. My. Goodness. My. Heart. Melted!!!!

But speaking of "mmmmm", there are so many things to be "mmmmming" about especially during the Christmas season. We are huge bakers during this time and package up our goodies as gifts every year. I love having the FoodNetwork on during the day and devour all their awesome holiday recipes. We also bake some family recipes each year too. Some are old and some are new, but today we're sharing with you.

Hot cocoa is a definite must in our house. I think it would be divine to have a Hot Cocoa bar, so cute! You can fix it up with homemade hot cocoa mix (our recipe follows), marshmallows, cinnamon & candy-cane sticks, whipped cream, chocolate chips and red & green sprinkles. One our favorites is to mix coffee and hot cocoa together. (We love coffee and totally had a decked out coffee bar at our wedding and it was a huge hit!)

I like having pictures to go with all my recipes, but I haven't made all these goodies yet. However, once I do I will update this post with the pictures for you.

Cinnamon-Hazelnut Hot Cocoa

8 quart pkg. dry milk – (25.6-oz)
10-ounce Hazelnut Coffeemate  powdered non dairy coffee creamer  
(If the creamer is greater than 10-ounce use it all)
1 pound can instant chocolate drink mix  -Nestle (NESQUICK)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tblsp. + 1 tsp. Cinnamon (Pnezeys Vietnamese Cinnamon) 

Mix all ingredients into a bowl. To serve add 3-4 tablespoons of the mix to your water. You may need to add a little more depending on the size of your mug.

Peppermint Marshmallows
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar (powdered sugar)
1/3 cup cornstarch
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1-1/3 cups granulated white sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup crushed candy canes or mint candies
1/8 teaspoon salt

In a small bowl, sift together powdered sugar and cornstarch. Line a 13x9x2 inch baking pan with nonstick foil. Coat with nonstick cooking spray. Sift 2 Tablespoons of the sugar cornstarch mixture into pan, tilting to coat sides. Leave an excess in the pan. 
Place 2/3 cup water in a large bowl. Sprinkle with gelatin. Let soften 5 minutes.
In a medium heavy bottomed saucepan, heat sugar, corn syrup, candy cane pieces and salt over medium heat about 7 minutes until sugar and candy are dissolved, stirring occasionally. Strain into bowl with gelatin.
Beat on high speed with an electric mixture until light and fluffy, 10-15 minutes. Spread into prepared pan and smooth top. Dust with 2 Tablespoons of the sugar-cornstarch mixture. Let set at room temperature for 2 hours.
Lift marshmallow from pan using foil. With a wet knife, cut into 6 squares. Spread remaining sugar-corstarch mixture onto a baking sheet. Invert marshmallow block onto sheet; cut each square in 9 pieces. Toss marshmallows in sugar-corstarch mixture, and set on a pan to set an additional hour. Store, loosely covered, at room temperature.

*We don't recommend putting these peppermint mallows into your Cinnamon-Hazelnut hot cocoa...too many flavors going on. Try these in regular cocoa.

In July we baked Gingerbread cookies with a recipe we found online with a slight taste of orange. It was delicious!

Gingerbread Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1-1/2 cups white sugar
1 egg
1-1/2 Tablespoons orange zest
2 Tablespoons dark corn syrup
3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream the butter and the sugar together. Add the egg and mix well. Mix in the orange zest and dark corn syrup. Add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, finer, ground cloves and salt; mix until well combined. Chill dough for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease the cookie sheets or I like to use parchment paper. Lightly flour a surface and roll out dough to 1/4 inch thick. Cut into shapes using cookie cutters.

**We use a gingerbread man cutter, if you flip the cookies upside down for decorating, you have reindeer with the feet as the antlers and the head as the nose!

Place cookies about 1 inch apart on cookie sheets.
Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until cookies are firm and lightly toasted on edges. I always check my cookies at the 7 minutes mark because every oven is different. If you want your cookies a little chewy & softer take them out around the 7-9 min. mark. If you prefer crispy cookies bake them a little longer.

We love sugar cookies too. My favorite recipe calls for Coconut extract. If this isn't in there, it is nowhere near as good, I promise you'll love it. Our favorite recipe came from a magazine article in 1986.

Sugar Cookies
3-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 (8oz) package cream cheese, softened
2 cups sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon coconut flavoring (sometimes I add a little bit more)

In a medium bowl stir together flour and baking powder. Set aside.
In a large mixer bowl beat butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, beat until fluffy. Add egg, vanilla, almond extract, and coconut flavoring. Beat well. Gradually add flour mixture to creamed mixture, beating well after each addition.
Divide dough into thirds (about 2 cups each). Wrap in plastic wrap and chill overnight.
To make cutout cookies, roll chilled dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/8 inch thick. Place on ungreased cookie sheet (I like using parchment paper still) and bake at 375 degree F for 6 to 8 minutes or until very light brown around edges.
Remove and cool on a wire rack. They're ready for decorating!

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