Saturday, December 22, 2018

Last-Minute Festive Food

I was talking to a neighbor earlier this week, and she was asking whether the cookies I'd been making were going to be on the blog. I wanted to say yes, but I've honestly been pushing so hard to get things done this year that I haven't had time to take photos while baking. 

I didn't even take any photos while making the dipped pretzels featured in this post. But - since they have to sit out on wrapped paper to harden, at least I do have post-prep photos. 

Let me explain the idea behind them:

So... yeah... you melt the white stuff (I use a double boiler on the stove, but you can follow the package directions for the microwave if you have one), and you dip stuff in it, then let them to dry/harden on waxed paper. 
Can you guess where on the prep table the bowl used to be? 
It's pretty easy and fairly fast. Dipping these pretzels by hand, I made 90 of them in about 45 minutes - and that included the stovetop melting process. 
I mentioned in the video that these are Gluten-Free. But, even so, can you imagine anyone turning them down? Seriously. You can do a lot of Gluten-Free stuff pretty easily - sometimes even by accident!
Frankly, that's what I need this time of year, because my brain starts to not want to process more difficult tasks. The lead-up can be pretty darned frantic, and you sometimes forget to take a little time to just enjoy it all happening. The best I can do in these cases is plate things.
Umm... This batch of Spritz cookies is also Gluten-Free! Bonus!

And wrap them in plastic.

And hope to remember to take them with me when I leave the house specifically with the intention of taking them to the neighbors. (Who among us hasn't walked out the door and realized a present/bag/set of keys was still on the counter this time of year?)

Luckily, a lot of my baked goods tend to go into the mail (or to the neighbors), so that means that in the final few days before Christmas I have nothing left to do but sit back and enjoy the world going by. Christopher and I have made a kind of tradition of going out to dinner a few days before Christmas. We try to go somewhere we might not usually go. It's a great way to take a step back, breathe a little, look at the lights, and let someone else deal with prep and delivery for a bit. 

However you plan to spend the next few days - whether in the kitchen whipping up a few last-minute festive treats or on the road/in the skies or avoiding it all with a cocktail, I hope you get to enjoy it. 

Merry Christmas!
What are you up to for the Holidays? Do you celebrate Christmas, or some other event? Or do you avoid them all and just take advantage of the sales? 
Just so you know, I'm making a New Year's resolution to be better about my blogging. I'm not planning to define "better" just yet, though. ;-)

Sunday, December 9, 2018

It's All in the Timing

Does it seem to anyone else that this year went from dragging along to kicking into overdrive all in about 30 seconds? 

I've been thinking that I was really running about on track for getting things done. And I am still getting things done - like the foods in these photos - but that's not allowing me much time to put together decent blog posts. 

Here's what I can offer you this week:

So, for now, we have about 5 dozen of those Peanut Butter Blossoms, 3 dozen Brownie Bites...

And 2 full pans of Special K Frosted Chews (which will cut into about 3 dozen each).

And I still have 16 days until Christmas.

Good luck to all of us!

Thanks, again, for your help with the GoFundMe pages - sharing and even donating! Keep up the good work!

How are you doing with plans for the Holidays? I hope you're having better timing luck than I am!

Sunday, December 2, 2018

S'more - Cookie Giveaways (and S'more Chances to Give)

Sorry this is so late. As you'll see in the first video, Christopher and I were out of town this past week. I thought I'd have no problem tackling a blog post from where we were staying, but the video uploads were a bit daunting on shared wi-fi, so I decided to delay until we got home. 

So, without further ado, let's get into these perfect cozy treats.

And - to prove that we were away, here's some video of me by a fire:

Now, before we go any further, I want to remind you all that in November (humor me and pretend this post went up on November 30th like it was supposed to), I've been sharing some GoFundMe projects. And - if you shared the blog posts they were in - you could be entered into a chance to win a plate of cookies. 

I'm not including any new donation sites this week, but here is a recap of the ones we've seen so far: 

Last week, we had Bobby and his family, who lost their home while he was fighting the fires in Northern California: 
Their link is here: Local Firefighter Family Loses Home.
The week before that, we had Derek, who is dealing with cancer and all that comes with that diagnosis:
His link is here: Help Derek Fight.
And we started the month with Kara, a caregiver who needs some help to cover medical expenses so that she can continue to follow her life's path: 
Her link is here: Help Me Walk Again.
Although there aren't any new links this week, the idea is the same: If you share out this post, you can be entered into the cookie drawing. This week, though, even if you just want to share (or donate to) any of the GoFundMe sites (with or without sharing my blog), just let me know (possibly mention it in the comments on this post) and I'll enter you into the drawing. (After all, the point of this is really to amplify the stories of these three sites.)

But now, back to this week's food. I'm sure you all know that there are three basic ingredients: 

Or, four, really:
The fire source can change, but there does need to be a good heat source.
I decided to be organized for this (typically, I'm in mid-marshmallow-roast when I realize that the other pieces are still in the kitchen), so here are the steps I followed with you in mind: 

1) Graham crackers: 

2) Hershey bars:

3) Marshmallows: 

3.1) Marshmallows on a long stick:
Not only did the grilling fork have a heat-resistant handle, it also held two marshmallows at a time! Bonus!
4) Fire:

In trying to do this all proper-like, I even pulled the marshmallows out before they went up in flames. This way, they were simply hot, melty, and malleable.
Honestly, you have no idea how hard it was for me to pull them out before they were totally flambé-ed.
At this point, it's all about assembly, or what I like to think of as the "slide and smoosh" steps: 

a) slide:

b) smoosh:

Note: Apparently marshmallows smell really good to some dogs. This is the very hopeful look I was getting through most of this process: 

She couldn't reach the mantle, thankfully. 

And, just because, here's the wrap-up video, so you can see me get the marshmallow stuck in my mustache:

Oh. Okay. I can't lie. I did do a few extra marshmallows to a more well-done state. Some things you just have to do...
Because, really, the charred outer layer is just the best, isn't it? 
*Disclaimer: I'll be trying to draw a winner each week before the next post goes up. Everyone who shares the post (or one of the GoFundMe sites) in a way that I can track it (or who lets me know that sharing has happened) will be entered into the drawing for the plate of cookies (shipping within the US, only). One entry per share, so feel free to share multiple times. No extra entries for making a donation to the fundraising pages, but don't let that stop you. 

**Week Three's winner is Jessi B. from Alaska. She'll be getting something in the mail as soon as I make my next batch of cookies (which, this time of year, could be at any moment)!