Holiday Tree Napkin Fold


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The best part about these holiday tree napkin folds is that you can do them with almost any kind of napkin, from cotton ones to paper ones. Plus, they will be a fun conversation starter when your guests come to sit at the table.

Supplies:

  • Paper napkins or cotton napkins
  • Wood decorations (optional)
  • Wooden dowel
  • Cutting tool

How to

Step one: Open out the paper napkin so that it is in a square then fold it in half. Then, fold it in half again and turn it around so that all the outside corners face you.

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Step two: Fold each corner up to the top, making each fold lower than the one before it.

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Step three: Turn the napkin over and fold each of the outer corners to the opposite sides. You will be left with a pointy shape.

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Step four: Flip the napkin over so the thickest part is at the bottom and the other side faces upwards.

Step five: Start at the top and fold each flap upwards. From the second one down, tuck the pointed tip under the flap above it so that you have a clean looking tree shape.

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Step six: (Optional) Place a wooden decoration (such as a snowflake or star) at the top of your tree. Then, cut a two inch length of wooden dowel and place at the base of the napkin so that it looks like the tree trunk.

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Quick & Easy Chocolate Pinecones


QUICK + EASY SNOWY CHOCOLATE PINECONES
Many years ago, while taking my niece on a little nature walk, I remember watching as she picked up a pinecone and tried to eat it. I can only imagine how prickly the scales were on her tiny tongue! Here’s an idea for a pinecone snack that’s sure to make curious tastebuds happy.

img_0295Made with dry cereal and a peanut butter mixture, it’s part-healthy, part-sweet, and 100% fun. It’s a great edible craft for the kids to make this winter when the snow arrives and cabin fever sets in. No baking required—just mix and assemble.

img_0296And while they’re a clever snack for kids, these chocolate pinecones also look very chic and elegant at a winter wedding reception or other snow-themed event. Mother Nature never tasted so sweet.

What You Need

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  • 3 cups Chex Chocolate cereal or comparable (I used Chocolate Fiber One cereal)
  • 6 pretzel sticks (I used the thicker dipping sticks)
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup Nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread)
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

How To

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Step 1

Mix the peanut butter, Nutella, butter, and powdered sugar in a bowl.
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Step 2

Take a pretzel stick and mold some of the peanut butter mixture around it, forming a slight cone shape.
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Step 3

Holding it steady by using the tip of the pretzel as a handle, start inserting pieces of cereal into the peanut butter mixture in a symmetrical pattern around the stick. Add more cereal pieces, staggering them as you move upward, until you get near the top.
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Step 4

Cut several cereal pieces into triangles and add those to the top (most pinecone scales get smaller toward the end.)

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img_0303Step 5

If your pinecone is getting too tall (like mine were), cut off the top of the pretzel and add a dollop of peanut butter mixture to cover it. Insert a few more triangle pieces of cereal into the top of the pinecone.
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Step 6

For a “snowy” effect, dust the pinecone with powdered sugar.

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So now for the big question…. How do you eat a pinecone? Simple! Pluck it apart, piece-by-delicious-piece.

Sugar Cookies


Sugar Cookies

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • Powdered sugar, for rolling out dough

Procedure

  1. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  2. Place butter and sugar in large bowl of electric stand mixer and beat until light in color.
  3. Add egg and milk and beat to combine.
  4. Put mixer on low speed, gradually add flour, and beat until mixture pulls away from the side of the bowl.
  5. Divide the dough in half, wrap in waxed paper, and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  7. Sprinkle surface where you will roll out dough with powdered sugar.
  8. Remove 1 wrapped pack of dough from refrigerator at a time, sprinkle rolling pin with powdered sugar, and roll out dough to 1/4-inch thick.
  9. Move the dough around and check underneath frequently to make sure it is not sticking. If dough has warmed during rolling, place cold cookie sheet on top for 10 minutes to chill.
  10. Cut into desired shape, place at least 1-inch apart on greased baking sheet, parchment, or silicone baking mat, and bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to turn brown around the edges, rotating cookie sheet halfway through baking time.
  11. Let sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes after removal from oven and then move to complete cooling on wire rack.
  12. Serve as is or ice as desired.
  13. Store in airtight container for up to 1 week.

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/sugar-cookies-recipe.html?oc=linkback

Holiday Cut-Out Butter Cookies


Holiday Cut-Out Butter Cookies
Ingredients

For the Cookies

  • 1 1/4 (163g) cups Confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) plus 2 tablespoons (262g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3/4 (3.77g)  teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon (5.6g)  almond extract
  • 2 3/4 cups (343.5g) all purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off with knife

For the Icing

  • 2 1/4 cups (293g) Confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (43.7g)  light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon (35.5g) milk
  • Food coloring and sugar decorations, optional

Preparation

  1. Combine the confectioners’ sugar, butter, egg yolk, salt, and almond extract in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat until smooth.
  2. Add the flour and mix on low speed until well combined. The mixture will seem dry and crumbly at first, but don’t worry — it will come together.
  3. Scrape the dough onto a work surface (if it’s sticky, dust very lightly with flour).
  4. Shape into a ball and cut in half; form 2 discs, then wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  5. When you’re ready to bake, remove the dough from the refrigerator; let it soften on the countertop for 20-30 minutes.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  7. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  8. Work the dough with your hands for a minute or so, until it feels soft and pliable enough to roll. Be careful not to overwork it; it should still feel cold.
  9. Sprinkle your work surface lightly with flour.
  10. Lightly sprinkle the top of the dough and the rolling pin with flour as well.
  11. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll to 1/8″ – 3/16″ thick, sprinkling more flour over and under the dough as needed so that it doesn’t stick.
  12. Use cookie cutters to cut shapes.
  13. Use a thin metal spatula to lift the cut dough off of the counter and onto the prepared baking sheets (they can be close together; they don’t spread).
  14. Re-roll and cut the dough scraps, dusting more flour as necessary so the dough doesn’t stick.
  15. Bake for 10 to 14 minutes, until they’re set and barely browned around the edges. (Note that the cook time will vary depending on the thickness and size of the cookies. And mini cookies might be done in as little as 8 minutes.)
  16. While the cookies cool, make the icing.
  17. Combine the sugar, milk, and corn syrup in a medium bowl.
  18. Stir with a spoon to make a thick but spreadable icing. If the glaze is too thin, add additional confectioners’ sugar. If it’s too thick, dribble in additional milk 1/2 teaspoon at a time. (You’ll know the consistency is right when a ribbon of glaze dribbled from the spoon will sit atop the glaze in the bowl briefly, before settling and disappearing. Be careful not to make it too thin, or it will drip right off the cookies and make a sticky mess.)
  19. Using a small spoon, dollop the icing on the center of the cookies and use a spoon, knife, toothpick or your finger to spread it all the way to the edges.
  20. Sprinkle with colored sugar or other sugar decorations while the icing is still wet.
  21. Allow the icing to harden before storing the cookies.

Cook’s Note

The cookies are best eaten within a day or two, when they are perfectly tender and crisp. They’ll keep much longer stored in an airtight container, but they’ll soften up.

Eggnog Scented Christmas Sugar Cookies with Easy Vanilla Icing


Eggnog Scented Christmas Sugar Cookies with Easy Vanilla Icing.
Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds removed (optional)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract* (optional)
  • 1 egg, at room temperature*
  • 1/3 cup high quality eggnog
  • 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Easy Vanilla Icing

  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons meringue powder
  • 6-8 tablespoons water
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds removed
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • assorted food coloring, holiday sprinkles and or candies, to decorate (optional)

Preparation

  1. To make the cookies, cream the butter, sugar, vanilla bean seeds, vanilla extract and almond extract in a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy, about a full 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add the egg and eggnog and mix until evenly combined.
  3. Add half the flour, baking soda and salt, beating until combined.
  4. Then add the remaining flour and beat until the dough forms a ball.
  5. Generously flour your work surface.
  6. Divide the dough in half and flatten each half into a disk.Roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Make sure you are using enough flour or your dough will stick. You can also roll the dough out between two piece of wax paper.
  7. Cut out the cookies into your desired shapes.
  8. Carefully transfer the cookies to a parchment line baking sheet.
  9. Cover the baking sheet and place the baking sheet in the freezer, freeze until very firm, about 25 minutes.
  10. Roll out the leftover scraps, and repeat with the remaining disk of dough.
  11. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  12. Bake the cookies on the middle rack of the oven for 12-15 minutes or until just lightly golden brown. Do not over bake.
  13. Cool on the baking sheet five minutes and then transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
  14. To make the icing, combine the sugar and meringue powder in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
  15. Mixing on low speed, add 6 tablespoons water.
  16. Mix until icing holds a ribbonlike trail on the surface of the mixture for 5 seconds when you raise the paddle.
  17. Add the vanilla bean seeds and nutmeg, mix until just combined.
  18. Frost the cooled cookies and decorate as desired. I like to keep things simple and use holiday sprinkles to decorate most of my cookies. You can also use food coloring and color the frosting red, green or whatever colors you like.
  19. To pipe the icing onto the cookies, add the icing to a gallon size ziploc bag (or a piping bag), then snip of a small portion of the corner off.

Cook’s Notes

* If you do not have almond extract on hand or cannot find it, feel free to just leave it out. BUT if you can find it, I think it really adds a lot.

** To quickly bring your eggs to room temperature, place them in a large bowl with their shells on. Cover them with warm water and let them sit 5 minutes.

*** The cookie dough can also be stored in the freezer for up to 1 month. To bake remove from the freezer and let sit on the counter for 5 minutes prior to baking. Bake As directed.

Reindeer Sugar Cookies


Easy Reindeer Sugar Cookies
Ingredients

  • 1 cup (230g) butter, softened
  • 1 cup (192g) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon  (5.6g) vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons (7.6g) baking powder
  • 1/4 (1.25g) teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar with a mixer until smooth.
  3. Beat in the vanilla extract and egg.
  4. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt and mix well.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients a little at a time.
  6. When it’s all mixed in, wet your hands and knead it by hand until it’s a good
  7. dough consistency.
  8. Immediately roll small batches out onto a floured surface to about 1/4″ thick, then cut with cookie cutters. (Don’t chill the dough)
  9. Bake at 350F for 8 to 9 minutes.

How to Decorate

The cookies turned out beautifully! Perfectly round, with even colour and no darkening around the edges. Not too shabby, if I do say so myself!

img_0227To decorate them, I used Wilton’s Black Gel Icing, Wilton’s White Decorating Icing, and red and brown M&M’s.

img_0228Start by using the black gel icing to draw two tiny eyes, pretty much right in the center of the cookie.

img_0229Then draw two diagonal lines upwards away from the eyes.

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Then more diagonal lines to complete the antlers.

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Add a generous dot of white icing where the nose is going to go.

img_0232Then gently press on the M&M with the “M” side facing down.

img_0233These reindeer sugar cookies are really easy to make and they look ADORABLE! The cookie recipe is so good! Perfectly even cookies, with no chilling required!

img_0234Easy peasy!

img_0237These reindeer sugar cookies are really easy to make and they look ADORABLE! The cookie recipe is so good! Perfectly even cookies, with no chilling required!

img_0235Aren’t they cute!?

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These reindeer sugar cookies are really easy to make and they look ADORABLE! The cookie recipe is so good! Perfectly even cookies, with no chilling required!

All Natural Room Scents


All Natural Room Scents

Avoid harsh chemicals with these easy DIY room scents. From crisp apples to sweet oranges and festive cranberry, these five all-natural scents will fill your kitchen (and waft through your house!) with notes of fruit and spice – and are perfect for entertaining.

Materials

  • 5 Canning Jars
  • 1 Orange
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1 Apple
  • 8 Cinnamon Sticks
  • 8 Ginger Root Slices
  • Peppermint Extract
  • Almond Extract
  • Vanilla Extract
  • 1/3 cup of Cranberries
  • 4 Sprigs of Fresh Rosemary
  • 1 Tablespoon of Whole Cloves

All Natural Room ScentsProcedure

  1. Place the following ingredients in separate canning jars:
  2. Thinly slice the orange, apple and lemon.
    • Jar One: cranberries, two sprigs of rosemary, six drops of peppermint oil
    • Jar Two: three or four orange slices, one tablespoon of cloves, four cinnamon sticks
    • Jar Three: four orange slices, eight slices of ginger root, six drops of almond extract
    • Jar Four: eight apple slices (quarter slices), six drops of almond extract, four cinnamon sticks, three slices of oranges
    •  Jar Five: lemon slices, two rosemary sprigs, six drops of vanilla extract
  3. Fill each jar with water and refrigerate until you are ready to use.
  4. When you are ready to use, pour the contents of desired jar into a saucepan and simmer. As the water evaporates, refill as needed