Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Getting in the spirit - Baking cookies

The homemade holiday cards had been mailed, the local gifts had been purchased and delivered, and all that was left was the SGF Cookie Express...

I'm not much of a cook, but I do enjoy baking from time to time. The hardest part about baking is not eating it all myself. Let's just say I can get carried away. So the holidays are the perfect season to get all that baking out of my system, then give it all away (Dave has been drooling at the thought of all these cookies, just waiting to get his hands on the leftovers). 

So, yeah, I've pretty much gotten this whole baking thing out of my system as I've made about 30 dozen cookies over the last week. I don't think I want to see another cookie until next year. Ok. Maybe not that long...

Here's what went in our cookie gift trays this year:

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies - This is a real favorite among friends and family. I never tell anyone there's no flour until after they've eaten one and I swear no one can tell (and they always ask for the recipe). One of the best cookie recipes ever, I think. I've made them with smooth peanut butter and chocolate chips, and also with chunky peanut butter and no chocolate chips. They are fabulous either way.

Oatmeal Cookies - A very classic cookie and super easy to make. Everyone loves oatmeal cookies, no? And if you like, you can always add nuts, chocolate chips, or dried fruit. I made these without any extras and they're very good!

Black and Whites - This was my first run at this recipe. I discovered it in one of my favorite mystery series, Joanne Fluke's Hannah Swenson Mysteries. These are fun books about a woman who owns her own bakery (The Cookie Jar) and in her spare time, of course, she solves mysteries. Not only is there always a fun mystery, but the books are chock full of dessert recipes. Right. So back to the cookies. This was a definite winner. The cookies are gorgeous and super tasty!

Pecan Chews - Another new recipe from a Joanne Fluke book. My step-mom LOVES pecans, so this was one of two recipes I made for her. So far, I've heard nothing but good reports. If you like pecans, this is definitely the cookie for you!

Chocolate Covered Cherry Delights - This is the final recipe I took out of a Joanne Fluke book, but it's just as good. This is another I made with my step-mother in mind. She loves chocolate covered cherries, so when I saw this recipe, I decided to give it a shot. It was by far the most complicated of the cookies - it definitely takes a bit more time than a simple drop cookie - but it was wonderful. And it's fruit right? That totally counts as health food.

Cinnamon Pecans - I received some homemade cinnamon pecans last year and they were so good, I decided to try a recipe myself. It was a super easy recipe and I used local pecans.

We ended up handing out 11 trays of cookies (the "trays" were re-purposed plastic salad containers from my favorite burrito restaurant - go green!), and as I mentioned yesterday, I took a full tupperware container of cookies out to the farmers market on Saturday to share with my extended farmer-family. Between me and John (the coffee vendor), we were the hit of the market!

It took some work (I spent about 4 days baking), but it was definitely the frugal option. As I said, we handed out 11 individual gifts and one large tray at the farmers market for about $60 in supplies. Deliveries put a smile on quite a few faces and we had a blast taking them to each house. It has truly been a wonderful holiday season so far!

Well, this was the third and final post for the "Getting in the Spirit" series this holiday season. This was the first year we made our own cards, we found some wonderful local gifts to give to our parents, and Dave finally has his hands on some of those cookies. There's just one more holiday delivery to make. California, here we come!


Chile said...

30 dozen cookies?! Wow, I just can't wrap my head around how long that would take to bake. (My oven only has one rack...)

Speaking of mystery-solving cooks, have you read the series by Diane Mott Davidson? They are quick reads but the cooking makes me drool. It would be hard to veganize many of her recipes but I love the fact that she uses cooking as her stress relief!

Jennifer (of Veg*n Cooking) said...

That is a lot of cookies Heather, you must have been flour covered and exhausted when all was said and done. I'm trying to figure out which one is my favorite. I am thinking the oatmeal one, I can't resist a simple, yet perfect, oatmeal cookies.

I love that you got the ideas from a mystery series you read. Talk about double duty - getting entertainment and baking ideas all in the same place.

I bet everyone is super pleased with these, I know I would be.

Green Bean said...

"The hardest part about baking is not eating it all myself." - that's my problem too!

I think I'll try the black and whites. YUM!

Heather @ SGF said...

Chile - Actually, I have one of Mott's books in my stack of library books. I've heard they are pretty good and am looking forward to reading them. There's also the series about the Mennonite woman (one of my favorite series) that solves crimes (the funniest mysteries out there, I think) and she has recipes too.

Yeah, 30 dozen was a lot. I'm thinking about doing muffins next year. There's less temptation for me to eat them :)

Jennifer - it was pretty exhausting, but it was fun at the same time. I just delivered the last tray of cookies last night and it's good to have most of them out of the house. The oatmeal is a popular one. Dave, who is normally a chocoholic actually prefers these. Mmmm!

Green Bean - they are sooo good. Almost like eating a brownie!

Chile said...

Heather, who writes the Mennonite mysteries? Sounds interesting!

Heather @ SGF said...

Chle - It's called the Penn Dutch Inn series by Tamar Myers. She writes 2 series. One is about a lady in antiques and I've never been able to get into it. But the Penn Dutch Inn series is hilarious. I laugh the whole way through.

sharli said...

The cookies were delicious! A few years ago, my mom, Liz, Ruth, another lady and I would get together and spend the day baking cookies. We each brought two or three recipes along with the ingredients, then shared at the end of the day. It was a lot of fun. Of course, it helped that Liz had two ovens and a HUGE kitchen at the time!

Jenifer@SeattleSoupLine said...

It is good to know that I'm not the only one baking cookies for family and friends. Although I can't match Heather's output. I've stuck with 2 of kinds the last 3 years. A Mexican Wedding Cake cookie w/pistachios and cherry flavored cranberries. This cookie is pretty, easy and it melts in your mouth because of the cake flour. The other is a Jam Thumbprint with Apricot jam. They're delicious and they look like a Christmas wreath. This year my new recipe was Peanut Butter and Jelly Shortbread. Your kids will go crazy for this yummy bar and it is unique. I found this recipe in the January 2009 Bon Appetite. So far the reviews from my friends have been excellent.

greeen sheeep said...

Wow! This is something I would really like to do, but lately am having a hard enough time getting my own family fed let alone make cookies for others. *sigh*

Wish somebody would make me a plate of cookies. They look delicious.

Heather @ SGF said...

Shari - That sounds like a great idea (baking together). We should do that next year!

Jenifer@ssl - Isn't it great to give home-baked gifts? Everyone is always so impressed that anyone makes anything homemade these days. I thought about thumbprints since I have all that homemade jam on hand. Would you be willing to share your recipe?

greeen sheeep - maybe Sharli has the right idea to save you on some time. You could include cookie baking with family and friends as part of another get together. The other thing is you can make the dough ahead of time and freeze either the dough or the baked cookies. It's too late this year, but next year maybe. Then you can do the cookies on your time and not at the last minute.

I have a few extra cookies if you want to swing by :)

Christine said...

Haha! It is very difficult not to eat them all myself! I just made russian tea cakes and brought them to work. My coworkers are having the same problem with not eating them all! But, that is the point, right?

Happy Holiday!

Heather @ SGF said...

Christine - I haven't had those tea cakes in so long. I'll have to try them next year. Thanks! You're right, they are meant to be eaten (hopefully not all by me though). It's the perfect time of year to share the love (and the calories) :)

BP said...

Thanks for the recipes. The kids and I will try some during the upcoming break..


Heather @ SGF said...

BP - hope you enjoy them. They didn't last long here. We have just a few left (currently residing in the freezer) and they are coming to California with us. I tried to save something for the inlaws :)