Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Crabby Day Contest

Oh what a few nights we've had this week ... Thomas' fussiness has prompted all sorts of jokes ... "somebody woke up on the wrong side of the crib this morning ..." being my favorite ... and of course the theme dressing that occurred today ... featuring a big old crab on his little booty.  Aunty Marge got a kick out of our photo today =)

I was a crab, he was a grump ... most likely from our sleepless nights ... I'm not sure if he's teething or just waking and fussing.  He doesn't have any mountain ranges in his mouth, just some sensitive spots near his eye teeth.  Counter pressure on his gums really does the trick for him, though ... and his blue UFO (soothie teething nuk .. looks like a UFO landed on his lips).  In the end, our pick me ups came from a shared nap time this afternoon and Mommy Baking Time (with a nice glass of wine...) during his evening nap.  There is nothing quite like making Christmas cookies to get in the spirit, and this year I lucked out because our church is collecting cookies on Friday for a cookie walk.  When asked if I could donate 3 dozen cookies, the only questions I had were, "when?" "where" and "can I please donate more??"

The easiest cookie to mass produce just happens to be my favorite ... I try to make them every year, and pressing them out here in Indiana fills me with memories of watching Dad carefully turning his old Swedish hand press! Lucky me, I have a more modern version of a cookie press, although it does make it a little more difficult to get those perfect poinsettias and darling wreathes.

Here's the recipe for Spritz Cookies:

1c. sugar and 1 1/2 c. butter - cream together til smooth
1 egg, 2 T milk, 1/2 t. almond extract, 1 t. vanilla extract - just combine in a bowl while your butter and sugar are creaming ... dump in and blend very well.
3 1/2 c. flour mixed with 1 t. baking powder - mix together then slowly combine with wet ingredients

Do not chill your dough ... mix in food coloring as you choose.  The packaging that my cookie press came in has all "nude" colored cookies decorated beautifully with different colored sugars ... but in my family we colored the dough and embellished with silver candy balls, red hots and sprinkles =)

I recommend mixing your dough in small amounts in a separate bowl using a spatula until the color is well combined with the dough, and then fine tuning your mixing with your hands ... this saves you from multi-colored rainbow hands later.

Then there is the old family secret that I was able to share with the woman I spoke with at church ... the secret to convincing your cookies to stick perfectly to the cookie sheet rather than stay stuck to your press ... keep your cookie sheets cold by storing them outside until you're ready to use them!  Another problem I ran in to was the heat in my galley of a kitchen ... with the oven on and 3 burners running on the stove top it got hot in there, and fast!  I think as my dough began to warm it was resisting separating from the press resulting in spritz cookies on steroids ... but that's O.k.  We are indiscriminate cookie eaters in our house.

 Here are the shapes I made today - clockwise from the Christmas tree - heart - wreathe - heart - ornament - poinsettia!  The hearts were made with a mixture of the remaining red, blue and green dough .. giving them a rawkin' tie-dyed look.  They're pretty fun ... and very tasty!

We are ending our day early today ... we start our morning with "Family Pictures" at JCPenny's tomorrow, thanks to a rawkin' offer through Groupon.  We've never been ... so it'll be interesting to see how it goes.  I'm not sure what to expect, and since everyone is heading to bed early tonight, I hope we all awake bright eyed and bushy tailed!  Even Ryan is in bed already.  Both he and Thomas had a very cozy evening of playtime, ending in both 'boys' relaxing together on the couch.  It was so sweet to look over at them, so peaceful.

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