Thursday, December 29, 2011

Cookie Crackers and a White Chocolate Cheesecake Ball

I have a confession. Sometimes, I throw food away. Like, in the garbage can. Don't tell anyone, because actually, I think it might be illegal in Korea. (You have to recycle it.) (I'm not kidding.) Usually I do recycle it. (Like, into my mouth.) You know, just doing my part to make the world a better place and all. But SOMETIMES when that basket of home baked goodness has been staring you in the face for days on end and you cannot possibly will yourself to walk away and stop eating it... there is only one option. Look, all I'm saying here is -- don't be afraid to get rid of all those left over Christmas goodies so that you can make room for these delicious New Year's Eve treats.

FOR THE "CRACKERS" -- 

Find some type of squiggly edged cutter and using your favorite vanilla sugar cookie dough, cut out a bunch of cookies. Then poke holes in them with a fork. In case you are wondering, we have forks with only 3 tines. THREE TINES. I hate them. My husband loves them. I tell him that they are called FOURks for a reason. He says that that's NOT why they are called forks. We're kind of at an impasse here.

After you cut out the cookies and before you bake them, mix some yellow food coloring with some water and just a tiny, tiny bit of brown to make a gold-ish color. Or, you know, use gold food coloring if you have it.

This is my high-tech ultra expensive cookie decorating tool. I just got it for Christmas. I've been wanting one for YEARS.  Its called ... a paper towel.

Fold it up and use it to paint the food coloring on the tops of the cookies. Get enough on there that it actually changes the color of the cookie, but make sure you don't leave any puddles. (That sounded kind of weird when I wrote that, but I actually can't think of another way to say it. Don't think any less of me.)

And then sprinkle some big old chunks of sugar on top. Not like super huge sugar cubes or anything, just some salt size sprinkling sugar. (WHAT IS THAT CALLED ANITA?)

Then bake your cookies. And done. In a matter of literally minutes you have made a giant pile of cookies that look just like crackers. Because on New Year's Eve, even the cookies want to dress up and party.


 WHITE CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE BALL


8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 Tablespoons butter
1 cup white chocolate chips
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup mini chocolate chips
2 graham crackers

Place the butter and white chocolate chips together in a medium size microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each interval. (White chocolate chips burn really easily, so be careful not to microwave for too long.) As soon as they are melted, add the cream cheese and salt and blend with a hand mixer. Add the powdered sugar, stirring by hand if necessary. Place in the freezer for 15-20 minutes or until firm enough to shape into a ball. While the mixture is hardening, crush up the graham crackers and place on a plate with the mini chocolate chips. After shaping the cream cheese into a ball, gently roll in the grahams and the chocolate chips. And then definitely eat that right away. Or refrigerate until you do.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Where are you December? (Sleighs)

I woke up this morning and saw that according to all the "x"s on the calendar,  it is now the END of December. WHAT?! How did that happen? I mean, I have some hazy memories of spending HOURS trying to decide what fun treats to make for my neighbors, but I don't actually have any memories of making any of those treats. I remember my child singing, "...jingle all the way...oh what fun it is to shoot yourself out of a cannon and into the house through a window..." (He's 4. What can I say? Oh, and you know what else? He got a pretend shaving kit for Christmas and the first thing he said was, "GAH! But the hairs don't come out of my face!") And there were some empty chocolate candy displays at the store and maybe a leaning shack of gingerbread in there somewhere.

But where were the carolers? And the MITTENS? AND THE SNOW? And... I don't know about you, but I certainly haven't had my fill of hot cocoa and soft lights and pretty music.

In fact, the only proof I have that December REALLY happened at all is this picture. And one of my daughter with a stuffed dog that is bigger than she is. But, you don't get to see that because actually she's terrified and its NOT a happy picture. Like, at all. The poor child. Ooh, and I guess I have these chocolate cookie sleighs. But, they are totally going to have to be eaten if they are to be believed. I mean, they could be a mirage or something, right?

Has anyone else's December turned up missing? Or is it just me? I mean, if this is big enough, we could probably report it to someone.  You know, get a task force down here and maybe some cameras or something.



P.S. Yes, I am fully aware that the lower half of my Christmas tree is bereft of all ornaments. It was not intentional. We have an 18 month old, and it just kind of happened over time. Like, over at least a 20 minute period of time. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I made a cake.

I know its hard to believe that I have a life outside of cookies. I totally do though.

I also make cakes. 

(Sometimes.)

I used to make cakes a lot. And I used to post them here a lot. In fact, when I started this blog...I only made cakes. Cakes are a lot harder to give away to your neighbors or send with your husband to work though. And then I moved to South Korea. And now I am the proud owner of the smallest oven in the history of ever. Except that, I actually don't even own the oven. It just came with the apartment I am renting. So, I guess that makes me the proud renter of the smallest oven in the history of ever.  So now, I mostly make cookies. Except that there was this one event in my husband's life for which he recently desired a cake. A big ol' cake, actually. And he said that if I loved him, I would make him a cake. And if I REALLY loved him, I would put it on my blog.

So I said yes. You know, because I aim to please and all that. Can't say no. Except that, I actually can. For some reason, I got really good at it this year. So, you know, I can now cross that New Year's Resolution off my list from 1997.  And before you ask...here's my method for everyone else out there that feels overwhelmed because they can't tell people "no" even when they have three children and are working full time and their mother is sick and they have to paint the entire set for "Oklahoma!" by 3pm today -- RUN AWAY. Seriously, just shout "no" over your shoulder while heading the other direction. Works like a charm. They never have a chance to guilt you in to changing your mind. And then stop answering your phone and logging on to facebook for like 3 weeks, and you will have successfully dodged that bullet.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Candy Canes

Okay, so a few days ago, I had the BEST dream. You know the kind of dream where you wake up and immediately you try to go back to sleep so you can have it again, except it never works that way and if you try to force it, weird things end up happening in your next dream and they totally negate the goodness of the first dream? Yeah, it was that kind of dream.
 
In my dream, I was funny. Like, really funny. Seriously, I was SO FUNNY that even super famous and attractive movie star type people wanted to hang out with me. (For the record, I don't usually dream about super famous and attractive movie star type people. So...that means I was really funny.) And in my dream it was the best day because everyone liked me and wanted to make me happy. And for some reason we were playing reindeer games, and...well, to be honest, things got kind of weird after that. And when I woke up, I had this un-explained NEED to make candy cane cookies. With sugar on them. So I did.

But I felt kind of weird about making just candy cane cookies. So I made some other cookies too. (Hmmm. I wonder what it is inside a person that makes them feel weird about making only candy cane cookies, but doesn't make them feel weird about sharing super odd dreams.) 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas Trees on the Traditional Side

My only male child is the BEST at hide-and-seek. Well, I mean, as long as the rule "If I can't see you, then you can't see me" applies and as long as hiding in the same place over and over is considered skill, then he's like a super hero of hide-and seek. World Champion even. A few days ago he was hiding behind the bassinet, under the Christmas tree while I was mopping the kitchen floor. (See what I did there? See how I managed to ever so casually mention that I was ACTUALLY cleaning my house? And then I made it seem like something that happens all the time and not something that was happening for the first time in a week...or three.) He talks to me all the time while he's hiding. As long as there is no visual contact, he's happy to be "hiding" out for a while.

We were talking about all sorts of important life things.

Male Child -- Mom, why are you cleaning?
Me-- Because its good for our house to be clean. It keeps us healthy and makes us happier.
Male Child -- Oh.


Male Child -- Mom, did you want to ask ME a question?
Me -- Umm, yeah, I sure did.
Male Child -- Okay. You can ask me a question.
Me -- Why do you like lying under the Christmas tree?
Male Child -- Because I like to look at all the colors of Christmas.

And contrary to what you might think after the pink trees and the blue snow cookies...my tree is actually decorated a very traditional red, silver, brown and green. Pretend there are pine cones on this tree...and its like you are sitting in my living room. We're practically neighbors now.

I LOVE making these trees. They are really easy to make and even better --  OH SO VERY FORGIVING. Nothing needs to be perfect. At all. Not even a little bit perfect.

You need a #233 (grass) tip for these cookies and some real thick icing. Like, thicker than outline icing. As a reference, it should be able to hold a peak until it dries. And it should crust over in about 30 seconds. Oh yeah -- and you might want some thinner brown icing. Which is totally not in this picture. But I'm not about to re-take a picture just so you can see what thinner brown icing looks like.

Pipe on your tree trunk first. And let it dry a bit. Or not, actually. It really doesn't matter as long as it is on there first.

You want to start from the bottom of the tree and work your way toward the top, making branches as you go.

The key to having individual pine segments is to keep the tip from touching the cookie. Hover over the cookie and squeeze until the icing hits the cookie, squeeze for just a moment longer, and then pull away in a downward direction until all the icing strands have broken. It sounds complicated, but its really, really not.

Finish making clumps of branches all the way to the top of the tree. The less careful you are, the better. If you stress out about perfection, you're going to ruin everything. Unless, of course, you're really good at perfection, and then, you know, do your thing. (Clearly, I am NOT on the "good at perfection" team. That's why I LOVE these cookies.) 30 seconds. Done.

Oh, and you can make wreaths the same way. And just think about all the possible decorations you could add to these trees...sprinkles and sugar pearls and shiny stuff and...you know... more stuff. But if you are going to add  some kind of beautiful and creative decorations, you should do it IMMEDIATELY after piping all the branches. Trust me on that one.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Giveaway Winners!

Sometimes when I do a giveaway, I feel like I need to let the winner reveal take as much time as possible. But then I realize that its totally annoying when I click through to see the winner and I can't find who it is right away. And I get all excited, because somehow the longer it takes to find the winner, the better chance I feel like I have. Probably because it would be just my luck to win a giveaway and to have made a mistake typing my own email address and then never be able to find out that I was the winner... Actually, as a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure I've won a kitchen aid and no one told me and then they gave it away to someone else...So if any of YOU have it...you are welcome.

Gahh--- look what you've made me do. I'm all distracted and taking up your time and totally annoying at least, like, 7 of you. Okay, okay, here are the winners--- (PS -- Did you hear that Copper Gifts wants to give away two additional cutters?!? THREE winners!) (PPS -- You are distracting me again...)

Winner #1

Michelle -- who said -- "I came up with the best reason of all: I should win the cookie cutter because: 'DITTO all the comments above!' "

Winner #2

Cheryl (Grandma Coco)

Winner #3

Babsmike --  who has a youngest daughter (Just like me -I have one of those too!) who is graduating and in need of cookies. 

I am going to email you all, but if you don't hear from me because your email has determined that it hates me and re-routes all my loving and giving emails to your SPAM box, then go ahead and send me an email. You know, to my email address. The email address that is right over there --------> on the right side bar. 

If you didn't win and you still want a fancy square plaque cutter anyway...you can get one from Copper Gifts by clicking HERE.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Pink Christmas Trees

I made you some Korean Christmas trees. Ha ha ha. I'm kidding. I kid. Ahhh, I'm so funny. Actually, I really am. My son told me so. He said, (and these are his EXACT words) "Oh Mom, you're so funny. You're the only funniest person in the whole world."  So...there's your proof. I'm totally funny.

I guess, it's not really funny unless you live in Korea though. See, here in Korea, Christmas is more like Valentine's Day. You celebrate it with a significant other instead of your whole family. (Or hide at work all day hoping someone will send you flowers and then act all surprised when the flowers you ordered for yourself come with some cryptic "secret admirer" note.) (Hypothetically.) And kids generally only get a small gift from their parents, and usually only until they are about 8 years old. So you know...pink like Valentine's Day, trees like Christmas...Korean Christmas trees...I swear I'm funny.


In case you want to make these...here is how I cut them out. I used a candy corn cutter from my Halloween pile and cut the trunk out with a square cutter. Then I squished them taller and leaning. --I'm kind of a squisher. It's what I do.--  But as I was cutting these out, I realized that an ice cream cone cutter would be like a jillion times easier because there would be no squishing involved.

I have to confess though...I felt a little weird making these big, shiny ALUMINUM Christmas trees. I'm probably going to have to make some Charlie Brown Christmas trees now to make up for it.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Winter Squares and a Giveaway



 ~~~~~ GIVEAWAY CLOSED ~~~~~


Once upon a time in a land far, far away called South Korea, there lived a little bracket square cutter. And this little bracket square cutter was so sweet and beautiful that every loved it and wanted the cutter to come live with them and be their best friend forever. But this little bracket square cutter already had a best friend in the whole world, and wasn't looking for another best friend. Except that secretly, this cutter really did want another new best friend because her other best friend wouldn't take her to the mall or buy her chocolates or anything. And the cutter cried herself to sleep every night for at least like 3 days or something.

And then her fairy godmother, Beth (at Copper Gifts) took pity on the poor cutter and sent her not just one, but TWO new best friends. And they stayed up all night long talking and talking and giggling even though they promised they would go to bed by 10. And then they realized that three really is a crowd. And that one of them needed to go be someone else's new best friend forever...Okay, actually, this story is getting kind of weird. 

Look, I'm just going to come right out and say this. Beth sent me an extra cutter to give away to one of you all. So...leave me a comment telling me what occasion or design you would use this cutter for and random.org will happily choose a winner. Giveaway ends at midnight Pacific Time on Wednesday, December 14, 2011.


~~~~~ GIVEAWAY CLOSED ~~~~~

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Baby Faces and Blankets

Remember that one time that you went to see the doctor and he started talking to you and you just stared at him blankly because even though there were actual words coming out of his mouth you couldn't understand them at all and for like a whole 27 seconds you found yourself wondering if you were still in the same country and if he was really speaking English? But then you started to pay attention and realized that you could understand the little words like "if" and "the?" Why do they do that? I mean, I get that there are medical words that are just medical. You know, like "hemoglobin." But why do they use REALLY big, important medical terms for super normal easy to say phrases? For instance... every single time I've had a baby I hear this question --

"Have you been ambulating?"

And I'm thinking, "Are you kidding me? I don't even talk to my husband about stuff like that....oh wait...you mean WALKING? Why yes, yes I have. Thank you for asking."

I can honestly say that now I am grateful for all those medical terminology lessons. Because I had a baby in South Korea. And "medical terminology" was our common language. Who knew that all this time those fancy talking doctors in America were simply looking out for my future welfare and trying to impart a very important language lesson? So, you know, maybe you should pay attention next time you go to the doctor. You never know when you will end up in South Korea having a baby.


P.S. No innocent baby was neglected in the making of these cookies. Daddies need tiny baby cuddle time too.

P.P.S. Please try to overlook the weirdy-ness of the pictures. I took them kind of quick. Mommies need LOTS of tiny baby cuddle time.

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