Just For Fun

Fill in the blank:

 

I’m dreaming of a ___________ Christmas!

 

I’ll start:

* fun, with a side of nostalgia and a helping of good old fashioned hustle & bustle  *

(now I’ll have the song in my head all afternoon!)

Wrapping Up Loose Ends

Say what?? I don’t mean to throw you for a loop with the title of this post but just yesterday I hauled out some Christmas wrapping paper (hey, there’s still plenty of time…) and wrapped a couple gifts.  This morning I wrapped a few more.  You know what the most annoying thing about wrapping paper is? Well, for me, it’s all those scraps you cut off that are big enough to be used for something else but they’re not attached to the big roll anymore.  How do you save those and not have a giant frustrating mess when you store them and go to retrieve them for another gift?

I know you can probably buy a plastic tub or something but I’m cheap frugal and don’t want to spend money on solving this problem.

Enter…toilet paper rolls and paper towel rolls!

 

Wrapping Up Loose Ends

 

See, look how nice and neat that is? It’s a dream come true and since I’m pretty sure my dream of a white Christmas is going to remain a dream this year, this will have to do.  For some of these, I will have to be careful to keep them horizontal so the paper doesn’t fall out but it’s a huge improvement from the chaos that was loose scraps of paper.  I suppose I could move the roll to the end and paperclip the paper to the roll…we’ll see…well, no, I like having the roll in the middle – gives more support to the paper, especially the longer ones.

Anyway, I also just happened to have an empty wrapping paper roll so cut that into several shorter pieces.  Hooray for reusing things! And for the paper that’s still on the roll, a rubber band on each end helps keep it from unrolling on you when you don’t want it to.

 

So, that’s a wrap.  Haha.  Sorry – couldn’t resist.  I hope this tip helps you out.  Do you have a creative solution to storing wrapping paper scraps? If so, please share!

I’m going to be pretty busy the next several days so if I don’t post again before Wednesday, have yourself a very Merry Christmas!

Spiced Eggnog Muffins with Streusel Topping

Mmmm…I love a nice warm mug of eggnog and I enjoyed my first one of the season the other day.  It’s so rich and creamy and delicious! I know a lot of people don’t like eggnog, and if that’s you, please keep reading! These Spiced Eggnog Muffins with Streusel Topping are wonderful and I know for a fact that someone I know that does not like drinking eggnog likes eating these muffins.  They are perfect for Christmas morning or anytime eggnog is available at the store.  Too bad it’s a seasonal item, but I guess it wouldn’t be such a special treat if it were available all year round.

 

Spiced Eggnog Muffins with Streusel Topping

 

Spiced Eggnog Muffins with Streusel Topping
from A Farmgirl’s Dabbles
makes 12 muffins

Ingredients
Muffins
2 1/4 c all-purpose flour
1 c sugar
2 t baking powder
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t ground nutmeg
a pinch of ground cloves
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 c eggnog
1/2 c unsalted butter, melted and cooled (that’s 1 stick)
2 t pure vanilla extract

Streusel Topping
1/3 c all-purpose flour
1/3 c sugar
1/2 t ground nutmeg
1/8 t kosher salt
2 T unsalted butter, at room temperature

What To Do
Muffins
Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 12 regular size muffin cups with paper liners and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Make a well in the center of flour mixture and set aside.

In another medium bowl, combine eggs, eggnog, butter, and vanilla. Add mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened. Batter will be a bit lumpy. Divide batter between prepared muffin cups.

Streusel Topping

In a small bowl, combine flour, sugar, nutmeg, and salt. Using a rigid pastry blender or fork, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle topping over muffin batter.

Bake for about 18 minutes, or until golden and a wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove from pan and serve warm.

My Comments
For the streusel topping, I just used my fingers to cut the butter into the mixture.  I think it’s much easier, faster, and makes a better crumb.

If you want,  you can also make this as a loaf of bread.  That’s what I did this year and the recipe made one loaf of bread and I used almost all of the streusel topping.  I baked it at 350°F for about an hour, until a toothpick inserted in the middle came out clean.

 

YUM! I really hope you give these muffins a try.  Don’t forget a good cup of cheer to go with!

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

We woke up to snow yesterday and these cookies look just like they have snow on them! They go great with milk or hot cocoa and this recipe makes a lot so if you’re participating in a Christmas cookie exchange or just in need of a lot of cookies, you’ll be set with these delicious and pretty cookies.

 

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

 

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
from the Hershey’s Chocolate Lover’s Cookbook
makes about 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients
2 c granulated sugar
3/4 c vegetable oil
3/4 c Hershey’s cocoa
4 eggs
2 t vanilla extract
2 1/3 all-purpose flour
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
powdered sugar

What To Do
In large mixer, stir together granulated sugar and oil; add cocoa, blending well.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.

Stir together flour, baking powder and salt; add to cocoa mixture, blending well.  Cover; refrigerate until dough is firm enough to handle, at least 6 hours.

Heat oven to 350°F.  Grease cookie sheet.  Shape dough into 1″ balls; roll in powdered sugar.  Place about 2″ apart on prepared baking sheet.

Bake 12 – 14 minutes or until almost no indentation remains when touched lightly and tops are crackled.  Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.  Cool completely.

My Comments
I love that you can make this dough ahead of time!

I use silicone baking mats instead of greasing the cookie sheet.  Parchment paper works well too.

I use my cookie scoop to shape the dough into balls.  How big your scoop is will, of course, determine how many cookies you get.

 

These cookies are so fun and festive and taste great! They are perfect to enjoy throughout this Christmas season, whether you have snow or not.

Rollout Sugar Cookies

This is my favorite sugar cookie recipe.  It’s so fun to cut out different shapes for different holidays or events.  I was very blessed, one year, to receive a container of 100 cookie cutters for Christmas.  I think I’m set for whatever occasion should arise!  Although we are still having April Showers, there are some May flowers around and I just happen to have a picture of some sugar cookies that I made last year for May Flower Season.

 

May Flower Sugar Cookies

 

Rollout Sugar Cookies
from King Arthur Flour

Ingredients
3 1/2 c unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
3/4 t salt
1 c unsalted butter, room temperature (that’s 2 sticks)
1 1/4 c sugar
1/4 c cream cheese (that’s 2 oz – you’ll want this to also be at room temperature)
1 t vanilla extract
1/4 t almond extract
1 large egg, room temperature

What To Do
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease two baking sheets, or line with parchment (I love using silicone baking mats!).

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, and cream cheese until light and fluffy.

Beat in the vanilla and almond extracts, and the egg; scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.

Add the flour mixture, and mix at low to medium speed until the mixture is evenly moistened.

Place the dough in a plastic bag (or plastic wrap), flatten it into a disk, and chill for 1 hour before rolling it out and cutting.

Place on the prepared baking sheets, leaving 2″ between them.

Bake for 8 minutes, until golden brown at the edges.

Remove from the oven and cool on the pan for 5 minutes, before transferring to a rack to finish cooling completely.

Decorate however you want after the cookies have cooled.  If you want sprinkles directly on the cookies, you need to put those on before you bake them.

My Comments
How much should you flatten the dough disk before chilling it? From what I’ve heard, about 3/4″ thick.

I usually make my dough ahead of time, so put it in a plastic container, overnight, instead of plastic wrap. Then I can also put that in the freezer if I have any leftover dough.

Be sure and dust your surface with flour before you put the dough on it to roll it out.  I only roll out a little at a time, leaving the unused dough in the fridge to stay cool.  You’ll want to flour your rolling pin too.  Just keep a little bowl of flour handy – you’ll need more.

I roll my dough out to be 1/4″ thick.  To do this, I have two dowel rods that are 1/4″ in diameter and I tape them to the counter, put the dough in the middle and then roll out the dough.  The rolling pin rests on the dowel rods so the dough will be evenly pressed.  Yes, this makes me very happy.

I bake mine at 350°F.  375°F is way too hot in my oven for cookies.  I do bake them for 8-9 minutes until the edges just start to turn brown.  Every oven is different so I recommend testing out one or two cookies before putting a whole tray in.

 

Here are some more sugar cookie photos from previous holidays:

Easter Eggs

Easter Egg Sugar Cookies

More Easter Eggs

More Easter Egg Sugar Cookies

Valentine’s Day

Valentine's Heart Sugar Cookies

Christmas Cookie Decorating Party

Christmas Sugar Cookies