Saturday, December 24, 2011

Baking with Jessica

It's the holiday season and that means a lot of baking.

Although I start my baking right after Thanksgiving [in case you don't know, my cookie list is always a mile looooong ---> check it out over here], I always make time for baking with my best friend Jessica. To say is an understatment. And this, my friends, was our 5th "Annual Baking Extravaganza!" (Usually our friend Kylee joins us in our annual baking day, but Kyboo is in Indiana this year with her new hubby....and we missed you!!!)

Every year we get together and make as many cookies as we can fit into one day before we get bored and end up kicking ourselves because we just had to make so many cookies in the first place.

And guess what? This year was no different. Honestly, I don't think we'll ever learn. But, hey, where's the fun in that?

To start off our "Baking Extravaganza," Jess bought us Starbucks!!! And I tried the new Caramel Brulee good.

Now that we have our beverages, it's baking time.

Getting back to business......

This is Jessica in her cute apron that her mother-in-law made her. I need to find material so Karen can make me one, too. STAT. I'm thinking various blues to match my kitchen's blueberry theme.....

Anyhoo, Jess and I decided to make our Browned Butter Cookies (the original recipe always makes way too much frosting so we have to double the dough, which means we always make these cookies around Christmas), Lemon Drops (cookie dough Jess bought from a fundraiser), my infamous Lavender cookies (Jess actually introduced me to this recipe...but I make these darling cookies perfectly), Shortbread cookies (Jess loves these) and Apricot Pinwheels (I made a batch last week but had some jam leftover). I also planned to make scones, which we never got to...because we're quitters. (Actually, we just ran out of energy and day time, literally.)

However, when Jess and I get together, it's not baking without a few catastrophes.

Catastrophe #1 came when Jessica accidentally dropped the measuring cup into the spinning KitchenAid. Thankfully the cup was plastic, and the KitchenAid destroyed that sucker instead of the other way around. That would have been a KitchenAid murder. So when the cup fell in, the flour flew out showering her nearby laptop (which was sitting on the counter because the recipe was online).

Death by KitchenAid.

I think it's time to bring out the wine.

Why, thank you, Jess.

In all of this chaos, we completely forgot about lunch. Around 2 'o clock we were hangry. Good thing I brought up my delicious, heart-warming Potato, Broccoli and Coriander Soup. (You can check out this Cooking Club recipe here.) And Jess threw in some leftover baked sweet potatoes. Yes, we could live on potatoes, and we did in college....Jess and I consumed a lot of potatoes. I think this soup will become a part of our "Annual Baking Extravaganza."


Once our bellies were full, we were back in the game. Next up: rolling out the shortbread dough. Jess and I groaned at the idea of frosting millions of tiny Shortbreads, so we came up with a genius plan. Color the dough! We cut the dough into thirds and colored them blue, green and red. No frosting required.....GENIUS!

Around 5 pm we had to put our baking on hold and pick up Jessica's little man from daycare. Love this little boy! He just turned one last week. Once we got him home, we made dinner. Myles was hangry. haha

Mmmm, peas, couscous and chickpeas (I think). Look at him growing up and feeding himself. I can't believe how big he is!

Our dinner also consisted of couscous and peas. So simple, yet so gosh darn delicious. [Ignore my hunk pat of butter. Once the baby got his, we needed to season ours.]

After, it was back to the cookies.

Enter Catastrophe #2.

These shortbread cookies refused to come off the pans, resulting in this beautiful Christmas crumble mess of blues, greens and reds. Jess was snacking on the bigger crumbs, and I thought they would taste great on ice cream. 1) Too bad Jess didn't have any ice cream; 2) Two people making a billion cookies really don't need ice cream; and 3) Had there been ice cream, I still would have been all over that.

Yes, we were defiitely losing energy and interest by this point. Shoot, it was gone well before we picked up Myles. Probably once the wine was brought out.

Enter Catasrophe #3.

As I was "pinwheeling" the apricot jam, this being our third pan of these mouth-watering cookies, I hear a huge crash in the dining room.


Short pause.

"Brindi, you are going to kill me."

I walked into the room to find a huge pile of our delicate Apricot Pinwheels in a crumbled mess on the floor. All I could do was laugh and complain that if she was just going to throw them on the floor I wouldn't waste my time making them so pretty as Jessica swept up our mess while we ate salvaged what we could.

Twelve (12!) hours later we finally cleaned up the disaster we created in the kitchen and packaged our cookies.

Ugghh....I don't want to see another cookie until next holiday season.
Merry Christmas!

**And on a side note, this week has been so busy that I made it a point to focus only on yoga 60 mintues each day for my December 60-Challenge this week.

Browned Butter Cookies with Caramel Frosting
*adapted from Betty Crocker's Christmas Cookies

Yields 4 dozen cookies (or more if doubling batter)

1/2 c butter
1 c packed brown sugar
1/4 c milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 3/4 c flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven 375 degrees. In heavy saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until butter is light brown; pour into large bowl. Cool 5 minutes. Stir in brown sugar, milk, vanilla and egg. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt. On ungreased cookie sheets, drop dough by rounded teaspoons 2" apart. Bake 8 minutes or until almost no indentation remains when touched in center. Cool 1-2 minutes. Cool completely on wire racks, about 30 minutes.

1/2 c butter
1 c packed brown sugar
1/4 c milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 c powdered sugar

While cookies are cooling, in same saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Stir in milk. Heat to boiling; remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Cool to lukewarm, about 30 minutes. Gradually stir in powdered sugar. Spread about 1 tbsp frosting on each cookie.

Have a very blessed Christmas Eve.

Christ the Lord is why we celebrate this wonderful holiday. People tend to forget that as they bustle about buying gifts and baking up a storm. Please take time today to reflect on our Savior and his sacrifice, which brought our salvation. The following are a few of my favorite Christmas Eve Scriptures.

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."      --Isaiah 9:6

"When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, 'Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.' And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this Child; and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them."       --Luke 2:15-20

"For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men, training us to renounce irreligion and worldly passions, and to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world, awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for Himself a people of His own who are zealous for good deeds."       --Titus 2: 11-14

"When the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, which He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that we might be justified by His grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life."     --Titus 3: 4-7

With Love and God Bless,

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