Sunday, December 19, 2010

Dining In: Trying not to burn down the kitchen

Yes, we are skipping Christmas this year. Which gave me a great opportunity to spend some quality time in my kitchen, dabbling in a little holiday baking. I had loads of fun getting to try new recipes, and sharing the goodies with our neighbors.  Below is a list of items I attempted to bake, along with my reviews. Sorry no step-by-step pictures, it was a little crazy in my kitchen this weekend.

*Poppy Chow:
This recipe hails from the Tasty Kitchen by two contributors: Maria from twopeasandtheirpod, and ZoeDawn. Every year for Christmas I usually make the original Puppy Chow (or Muddy Buddies) for our families. It's always a huge hit. I liked this new look to an old recipe. It's super easy, plus it taste delicious. For all those popcorn lovers in your life, this is sure to be a huge hit!

LG Suggestions: Use Orville Redenbacher's Simply Salted microwave popcorn. This adds just a hint of salt to your sweet poppy mix.

*Chai-Spiced Snickerdoodles:
I found this recipe from Jessica @ Bake Me Away.  These cookies were actually surprising for me. When you bite in to them you expect a sugary/sweet taste but that's not the case. The cookie itself is pretty dull.  However, once that bite has been in your mouth for 2 seconds, your taste buds do the tango. It's a perfect mixture of sweet and spicy. Scrumptious with a glass of milk.

LG Suggestions: Be really careful not to overbake these cookies. My first couple of batches came out like hockey pucks. The recipe says 8-10 mins. I would bake for 8 mins, then let them cool on the pan for 3 mins before moving to a cooling rack.

*Monster Cookies:
Because of our newly southern roots, I felt compelled to try a recipe from the Queen of Southern Cooking, Ms. Paula Deen. These cookies are the perfect mixture of peanut buttery/oatmealy/chocolatey goodness.  But for me they were not my favorite to make.  I really struggled getting them to stick together. I felt like I had to man-handle every cookie just to get it on the cookie tray. Delicious end-product, but official dubbed a 'high maintenance' cookie.

LG Suggestions: Try adding 2-4 more ounces of peanut butter than the recipe calls for.  This might just hold your cookies together where you can easily drop them on to the baking sheet. Also, a cute way to make these cookies festive is to use holiday colored M&Ms.

*Cayenne Pretzels:
I went back to old faithful (Taste of Home) for this spicy holiday item. Watch out these pretzels are habit-forming! I love how spicy each pretzel is, with a perfect combination of the soothing ranch flavor. Out of all my holiday baking these were my absolute favorite!

LG Suggestions: I used the butterfly pretzels instead of pretzel sticks and they worked just fine. Also during the 1-1/2 hr baking episode you can get away with only stirring every 30 mins.

Happy Holiday Baking,

Sidenote: You can find all the recipes for each item if you click on the linked title.

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