Monday, November 30

How to Host a "Cookie" Decorating Party Without the Fuss, Plus More!

My little girl was born on Christmas Eve making her birthday parties a bit tough to have at that time of year. Last year though, we invited some of her little friends over Christmas Eve morning, her birthday, to decorate cookies. If you know me by now, you know that I like to take shortcuts, this occasion was no different. The thought of making cookie dough, rolling it, cutting shapes, and then baking the cookies was a daunting task to behold. I simplified the entire event by making trays of rice crispy cereal treats. The process was so fast and easy that the children remained engaged and very much enjoyed themselves.

1. In a large bowl make 3-4 batches of rice crispy cereal treats, I used the recipe on the side of the cereal box. I would say one recipe for every 2 children.

2. Press the mixture in greased aluminum jelly roll pans making sure the treats are 1 inch thick. You will press one recipe per pan. I made one tray/recipe per child and found that to be too much. 1/2 pan per child would be fine. Just cut the trays in half and give 1/2 tray per child- you can cut right through the pans. *This time of year I like to purchase extra aluminum jelly roll pans to supplement my own supply of pans anyway.

3. Now here is where I got very clever, if I do say so myself. I purchased two gingerbread house making kits, threw away the gingerbread cookie parts- oh come on they are pretty stale and gross anyway! I used the royal icing and the huge assortment of candies that were included in the kits. The icing was quick to make the the kits provided pastry bags and tips. I wrapped each tip of the pastry bag with a moist paper towel to prevent the royal icing from drying out. I placed all the candies in small containers for the children to choose.

4. I provided the children with a variety of cookie cutters including an extra large gingerbread man and encouraged them to make as many shapes as they wanted. The neat thing about crispy treats is that if a "cookie" were to break, we simply pressed the shape back together thus avoiding any and all tears.

5. After each child completed a creation, I placed them on trays to set. On each tray I wrote their name in icing.

6. Once the "cookies" were set, I arranged them on a Styrofoam meat trays, purchased from a restaurant supply store, for each child to take home. I covered each of their trays in clear plastic wrap and topped them with a bow. They were very proud to take home their own cookies.

7. Supply the older children with wooden skewers and toothpicks so that they may create 3D structures like this snowman. Also you may want to pipe the icing onto the cookies for the children since this can be hard for smaller hands to accomplish. I asked each child where they wanted the icing and piped it on there for them.

8. Now what does one do with all those leftover pieces of crispy treats? I rolled them into balls, sprinkled each with colored sugar, stuck each with a wooden stick, and wrapped them in cellophane bags with a twisty tie. These made great hostess gifts, nice additions to Christmas Cookie trays, and treats for friends at the office.

You will find this to be a fun time and very stress-free since you were not up all all night the night before rolling, cutting, and baking cookies that would probably break anyway. Enjoy!

What is going on in Big Red Kitchen you ask?
Using Up Thanksgiving Leftover Ham
Thanksgiving Leftover Turnovers- a tradition at BRK
Taco Soup for Football Weekends- super simple, spicy, and delicious!
Red Velvet Yule Logs- Photos of BRK included, plus my "Before" Pantry Photo.
How BRK Celebrates Christmas- My "After" Pantry Photo.
Christmas Peanut Butter Candy- you'll want to double this!

Christmas Morning
Each Christmas morning finds the table bountiful with hot dishes that have been a tradition in my home for all sixteen years that Himself and I have been married. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Scotch Eggs
New Jersey Coffee Cake
Hot Fruit Salad

Have a Delicious and Joyous Holyday Season and a Happy New Year!

Robin Sue

Questions or Comments? Email me @ bigredkitchen [at] yahoo [dot] com

Sunday, November 1

Holiday Survival, It's a "No" Thing

Holiday Survival, funny thought really. Survival means "to continue to live," as if getting through the holidays was literally a life and death situation. But here it is, are you living through them, really living? Over the years I have burned myself out during the holidays by saying yes to everything such as volunteering for various events, going to too many parties, baking too many cookies, cakes, and pies, eating too much, spending too much money, trying to please everyone, buying too many gifts and for too many people, the list goes on. I often got to the other side of the holidays and asked myself, "did I even enjoy this, did I even remember the reason for the season, or did I just get through it?" I may have survived them but I didn't live them.

Over the last few years, I have pondered Holiday Survival and have come up with ways to survive or really live them by saying "No" to or setting boundaries on...

1. Obligatory tasks- tasks that I have been "guilted" into
2. Things that take me away from my family
3. Requests that take me away from my personal goals
4. All the things mentioned in the above paragraph that I overdid in the past

By doing this, I have cleared up more time for family and friends, completed my shopping and cooking early, and surprisingly found more time to reflect on the reason for the season.

Don't endure the holidays, enjoy them.

Recipes from BRK...

For the Thanksgiving Table:
Dig Deep or Seven Layer Salad
How to Roast Beets
Corn Pudding
Boursin Mashed Potatoes
Leftover Ham- Pepper Jelly Ham
Pumpkin Cake Rolls

Simple little treats for quick entertaining...
Spinach Artichoke Dip
Tiny Brie Bites
Cannoli Bites
Two Ingredient Pumpkin Cake
White Castle-like Sliders
Nacho Bar

Brunch Ideas
Quick Cinnamon Rolls
Quick Crustless Quiche
Baked Apples
Mini Baked Brie Cups

Homemade Hostess Gifts
Gourmet Caramel Apple Kit
Hot Chocolate Pods
Peanut Butter Fudge Sauce
Sugar Scrub

And for giggles...
How I Handle Leftover Halloween Candy

Have a Wonderful Thanksgiving Season!

Robin Sue

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Questions or Comments? Email me @ bigredkitchen [at] yahoo [dot] com

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