Jill's Place

A life in progress, spent mostly in the kitchen

Holiday baking has begun

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Recipes and reviews to follow, but not until later tonight.

And now, it’s later. So a transformer blew sometime in the night or early morning, and my office building had no power. The building was closed entirely. Bonus day off! Of course, I’m sure I’ll have to burn some leave time for today – they don’t just give us days off. Oh well. So the kids went to school, and I thought about my options. Shopping to do, definitely. Wrapping, most definitely. But those chores just didn’t sound like fun. Baking it is!

Every year, some of my coworkers actually buy presents for everyone, and wrap them. Life is short, and that is just beyond my capabilities. I am taking in four ginormous platters of treats instead. First up, Reese’s Popcorn. The instructions were pretty simple, and it took 5 minutes to throw together. I haven’t tried it, but if it tastes good at all, it would be a keeper of a recipe, just for the lack of effort involved. I will find out tomorrow. My coworkers are not shy people.

Second item made today was the eggnog fudge. This was another easy recipe, and anything that has fresh nutmeg in it is pretty good in my book. I love eggnog, and the smell in the kitchen while this was boiling made me hungry. The eggnog scent definitely came through. Mark tried some after it set up, and said it was perfect. So there’s that. Of course, he has to live with me, and at that point I was asking him to try different things, while I was covered in flour and slightly crazed. So I’m just saying he could have lied.

Third item I started on was the gingerbread straws, since that dough had to chill for a bit. The dough was quick to put together, and wasn’t too sticky. Sometimes gingerbread cookie dough can get tough (or is that just mine?). But this was pretty much on target. Put that together in just a few minutes, and threw it in the fridge to chill.

Next I moved on to the red velvet whoopie pies. Now, I know what you’re saying, particularly if you know me. This calls for a box of cake mix! I don’t generally use box mixes. OK, rarely. Oh, all right – almost never. But, I usually try a recipe as written the first time, so I went with it. Besides, I’m not a huge fan of red velvet cake anyway. Since I don’t much like it, a box mix would probably taste about the same to me. Like I said, we’ll find out tomorrow if they’re any good. But that cream cheese filling? That I can vouch for – it was yummy. These were extremely easy to mix up (except for washing out my kitchenaid bowl for the 3rd and 4th time today) – cake mix, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup softened butter. I cannot tell you how much better this will work if you use a cookie scoop – otherwise your chances of finding two of approximately the same size is almost nil. But with a scoop, it’s easy as can be. And I put a lot of filling in each one, because that is probably going to be the best part! Now I did have some leftover filling. I couldn’t just throw it away, so I’ll have to think of something yummy to do with it.

After those cookies were baked and cooling, I moved back to my gingerbread straws. Let me tell you, these made me a bit nervous. I have never had a great amount of luck with rolled doughs, and they tend to break on me – especially when moving them to the baking sheet. And these looked so narrow and delicate. But, this was a pretty sturdy dough, and it worked fine. A couple broke, sure, but I decided they were rustic. They did expand in the oven a bit more than I expected, so it took several batches to get them all baked off. I love the sugar added onto the top of the dough before cutting – it added a nice texture and crunch. Lauren got home from school right as the last batch was done, and beelined for the kitchen to see what that smell was – and ate a few. After trying the gingerbread, she didn’t even want to try any of the other things. And my house smelled like gingerbread, bonus.

The picture above is what I’m leaving at home. I also packed up a few for our neighbor, who brought us chocolate popcorn the other night. Because my mama taught me that when a neighbor gives you treats, you should always return their container filled with something delicious. The rest of the stuff is going to work tomorrow, as my gift to my coworkers. Merry Everything! Let’s just not discuss the state of my kitchen, because then it was time to start making dinner, then to Lauren’s school for an event, and now finally home. And I’m not going back in that kitchen tonight.

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