Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Low Price Christmas Gifts

Christmas brings great pleasure to me every year, and the best part of the Christmas period is most definitely the atmosphere. With everyone getting into that joyful mood, the freezing evenings and burning log fires, families spending time together it’s a happy occasion. I think one of the main factors that makes Christmas is if you have kids, because you can keep up that hope of there being a St Nick. It’s also a time when young ones get animated and to be truthful the effect rubs off onto older generations. There is nothing more pleasing than seeing a kid open their presents on Christmas day, ripping apart the wrapping paper with a massive smile on their face as they can’t wait to see what’s hidden beneath, and even as a mother and an adult I am very much similar. Christmas turns everyone into a kid for that one day.

If you happen to be on a budget Christmas doesn’t have to be a demanding and perturbing time if you spend what budget you have wisely. Low prices gifts don’t have to be tacky and nasty; there are a lot of good quality bargains that can be brought if you surf online or go into the high streets. For example one of the best ideas is to purchase bottles of wine that you can get for $ - 12, then buy some wine presentation bags for them and your done, a low cost gift that will go down well and save you purchasing pricey items.

If you would rather, homemade goods can go down a storm, so if you are a whizz in the kitchen you could bake cookies, chocolate muffins or mince pies, carefully box them up, pop a bow on them, and they will look fantastic, again saving you money.

The Christmas holidays are about the thought of giving and most notably spending quality time with those close to you.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Minnie Beasley's Cookies - Best Christmas Gifts

If you are looking for a great idea for christmas gifts for friends, family members of even co-workers, Minnie Beasleys cookies make the perfect christmas gifts. Minnie Beasleys almund laced cookies are one of a kind, i've actually had nothing like them.

Minnie Beasleys cookies come in individual packages or you can buy them in bulk in tins. If you buy a tin of Minnie Beasleys cookies you obviously get a price break and is the best way to go if you want to buy them as christmas gifts. The cookies come in plain and chocolate are cost $8.95 for an individual pack.

For more information on Minnie Beasleys cookies, check out their website, www.minniebeasleys.com or give them a call (303) 327-8991

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Christmas Cookies: Santa's Favorites

Cookies. Who doesn't love them? We dip them in milk. We cover them with icing and sprinkles. We make them in various shapes and sizes and devour them with abandon, not giving a second thought to their caloric content.

Why? Because they're delicious!

We eat cookies year 'round and don't need an excuse to crave them, but the holiday season is the perfect time to overindulge. No cookie is better than a freshly baked Christmas cookie, after all. We bake them with our children while singing Christmas songs or decorating the Christmas tree. We sneak late-night bites while wrapping gifts and stuffing stockings. We leave a plate of cookies, along with a glass of milk, for Santa to nibble on during his Christmas Eve visit.

Of all the food and drink we associate with the holidays, none are more essential and revered than the Christmas cookie. Which is why we're bringing you a recipe you'll want to try in your kitchen come December. Not just any run of the mill cookie can be a Christmas cookie, after all. You want something special when you celebrate the occasion with family and friends, and we're happy to oblige by showing you how to make the best Christmas cookie on the block (no offense to your grandma's time-tested recipe!). And, to boot, they're easy and quick to make!

Santa's Midnight Snack (or Rudolph's Sugar Cookie)
3/4 cup butter-flavored shortening1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Icing and sprinkles

Mix shortening, sugar, eggs and vanilla in large mixer bowl at medium speed with electric mixer. Mix until light and creamy. Next, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add to creamed mixture and mix on low speed until well blended. Cover dough and chill for one hour. Preheat oven to 375 F. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness. Using a cookie cutter, cut in desired shapes (Christmas trees, stockings, Santas, gift boxes, etc.). Place on baking sheets and bake 8-10 minutes, until edges are golden brown. After cooling, decorate cookies with icing and sprinkles as desired.

Did you know that Santa's also a peanut butter fanatic? That's right, jolly ol' St. Nick can't get enough peanut butter fudge in that jelly like tummy of his. As long as you don't have any elves at home allergic to peanut products, give this recipe a try (not a cookie, we know, so we're fudging a bit on this one ... but, hey, this recipe is super easy and super tasty!):

Penultimate Peanut Butter Fudge
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup milk
1/2 stick margarine
Pinch of salt
1 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix sugar, milk, margarine and salt in a saucepan. Boil, stirring frequently, until it forms a soft ball in cold water. Remove from stove and add peanut butter and vanilla. Beat until creamy and pour into buttered 9x9 pan. Let cool before cutting.

How to Make Painted Christmas Cookies

By: Sherry Frewerd

Who doesn't love the smell of fresh baked Christmas cookies? Part of the fun of Christmas for many folks is baking and decorating Christmas cookies. If you like to decorate sugar cookies during the holidays then you may enjoy letting your inner artist come out this year. How about trying your hand at painting your Christmas cookies this year? While at first glance they may seem difficult to accomplish, painting Christmas cookies is easy enough for children to help with.
Christmas cookie paint is actually a simple mix of egg yolk, water, and food coloring. After you've rolled out the dough and cut the shape you want, just paint on some playful designs, and bake your cookies as always. A couple of techniques can be used to place the designs on the dough. You can paint freehand or take a smaller cookie cutter and gently imprint or press the design to paint.

Making the paint is easy. Use one egg yolk for every two colors you plan on using. Add ¼ teaspoon water, and beat with a fork until smooth. Divide the yolk mixture into two cups and stir enough food coloring in to make your desired shades. Keep in mind that the paint will dry out fast, so keep it covered when you're not using it. Stir in a little water to keep the paint a consistency that you can work with.

Easy Painted Christmas Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
¼ cup milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda

Egg Yolk Paint
Cream butter at medium speed and gradually add sugar, beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each egg. Add milk and vanilla, and mix well. Combine flour, baking powder, and soda; add flour mixture to creamed mixture, stirring until blended. Your dough will be soft. Shape dough into 2 balls; wrap each in waxed paper or plastic wrap and chill for 4 hours. Work with half of dough at a time; store remainder in refrigerator. Roll dough to 1/8 inch thick on floured board or waxed paper; cut with 2 ½ to 3 inch cookie cutters and carefully transfer cut cookies to lightly greased cookie sheets. Paint various designs on cookies using a small art brush and our Egg Yolk Paint. Bake at 375F for 6-8 minutes; cook on wire rack. Makes about 5 dozen.

Easy Egg Yolk Paint
1 egg - beaten
¼ tsp water
Food coloring

Combine egg yolk and water; stir well. Divide mixture evenly into 2 cups; tint as you desire with food coloring. Keep your paint covered until ready to use. If paint thickens, add a few drops of water and stir well. Makes about 1 ½ tablespoons. Prepare this recipe for every 2 colors of paint you want to use.

Painting Christmas cookies is so much fun that you might decide to start a new family tradition. Create these pretty cookies to give away as special gifts or use as tree ornaments. This is a great holiday activity for older kids to make Christmas gifts for Mom and Dad too. If you decide to make painted Christmas cookies as ornaments, just cut a small hole in the top of the cookies before you bake them. Thread colorful cord or ribbon through the hole after the cookies have cooled. Have fun and use your imagination!

Peppermint Cookie Recipe

The peppermint cookie recipe has a rich flavor and a great looking pink glaze. A great way to use up all those leftover candy canes!

Ingredients
Cookie:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 sticks (1 cup) salted butter, softened1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract1
1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch

Glaze:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar2 tablespoons salted butter, softened1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract1-2 tablespoons milk2-3 drops red food coloringpeppermint candy canes, crushed

Hardware:
Large bowl
Medium bowl
Cookie sheets
Plastic wrap
Mixer

Step 1: In a large bowl, combine powdered sugar, butter, and peppermint extract. With an electric mixer, beat at medium speed until creamy.
Step 2: Reduce speed to low and gradually add flour and cornstarch, beat until well mixed.
Step 3: Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm (30-60 minutes).
Step 4: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Step 5: Shape dough into teaspoon size balls. Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Step 6: Bake cookies 12-15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Let stand 1 minute; transfer cookies to cooling surface.

Glaze:
Step 1: In a medium bowl, combine powdered sugar, butter, peppermint extract, and enough milk for desired glazing consistency.
Step 2: Stir in a few drops of red food coloring. Drizzle over cookies.
Step 3: While glaze is sticky sprinkle with crushed candy cane pieces.
Makes 30 cookies.
For more information on baking procedures and hardware used in this recipe see our Baking Tips section.


For more great Christmas cookie recipes visit http://kicked-up-cookie-recipes.com/christmas-cookie-recipes.html

Refrigerator Cookie Recipes

I remember getting excited whenever we would get a box of Velveeta because that meant we would be getting one of mom’s refrigerator cookie recipes. She would always put the refrigerator cookies in the Velveeta boxes in the refrigerator. Probably a use for those boxes that we would never even think of today. It, of course, makes the cookies square, which allows for easier packing into containers. It also means that you do not have to mess with trying to get the cookies into a perfect roll. Also no danger of the kids putting something on top of the cookies and smashing them. I always liked coconut so the oatmeal refrigerator cookie recipe was one of my favorites.

Oatmeal Refrigerator Cookies
1 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 beaten eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups oatmeal
1/2 cup nuts
1/2 cup coconut

Cream together the sugars and the shortening in a large bowl. Add the eggs and vanilla to the creamed mixture. Sift the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, and salt) into the creamed mixture. Mix in the oatmeal, nuts, and coconut. Put wax paper or plastic wrap into Velveeta boxes and push the cookie mixture into the boxes. Refrigerate the cookies overnight. The next day take the refrigerator cookies out and slice them (about 1/8 inch thick). Then place the cookies on cookie sheets and bake in a 375 degree oven for 10 minutes.

Peanut Butter Refrigerator Cookies
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup evaporated milk

Mix together the butter and peanut butter in a large bowl. Add the brown sugar to this mixture. Add in the egg and mix well. Alternate adding the dry ingredients (flour, salt, and baking soda) with the evaporated milk. Put wax paper or plastic wrap into Velveeta boxes and push the cookie mixture into the boxes. Refrigerate the cookies overnight. The next day take the refrigerator cookies out and slice them (about 1/8 inch thick). Then place the cookies on cookie sheets and bake in a 375 degree oven for 10 minutes.

If you work outside of the home, this is a great cookie recipe to throw together on Friday night. Then you can have a fun time baking the cookies with your kids on Saturday.