Sunday, December 21, 2008

Hashbrown Casserole

On Thursday night, I also had to make the hashbrown casserole for my work Christmas party. This is the first time that I've made it and it probably won't be the last. My mom and Jen are the ones that usually make it and I love it! Once again, it's simple and I love simplicity!

Hashbrown Casserole

1 pkg Ore-Ida hashbrowns
1 can cream of mushroom soup
16 oz sour cream
2 pkgs shredded cheddar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Thaw hashbrowns in microwave 5-10 minutes (more if needed).
3. Combine hashbrowns, soup, sour cream, and 1 pkg cheese in a large bowl.

4. Pour mixture into casserole dish and top with 2nd pkg cheese.

5. Bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is nice and bubbly.

This was enjoyed by many at work and I love it as leftovers!

Thursday Night's Results

Thursday night was definitely a crazy one for me. Before we went to Target, I was able to check to see what stuff I had on hand for the cookies. I had already gotten what I needed for the hashbrown casserole. The only things I had were eggs (of course), brownie mix, confectioners sugar, butter, and peanut butter.

Before we left, we had dinner. Gotta love leftovers! Makes life so much easier. Once dinner was done, off to Target we went. At least this time I was smart and actually made a list. I'm really bad about lists, but I knew that this had to be a quick in and out trip, and it was.

I was excited about baking on Thursday night because I got to use my kitchen aid stand mixer and my new silicone baking mats.

I figured the best way to get started on my frenziness was to start with the cookies. They have been named: "Beckie's Bangin' Cookies" by Crystal and Brandon because they really are bangin'! What I love is that they are very simple to make. Here you go:

Beckie's Banging Cookies...

1 box brownie mix (family size/13x9)
4 oz cream cheese (softened)
1/4 cup melted butter
1 egg
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 can chocolate frosting

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Mix brownie mix, cream cheese, butter, and egg.
3. When fully mixed, scoop rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets (or baking mats, which I did spray) about 2 inches apart.
4. Mix confectioners sugar and peanut butter until mixture forms a ball (I use my hands, it's a lot easier)
5. Roll mixture into balls and place each ball in the center of each cookie.
6. Bake 10-14 minutes
7. Let cool for 30 minutes on baking sheet.
8. Frost the peanut butter and enjoy!

Before peanut butter balls

Ready to go in the oven

Finally cool enough to eat!!

Now normally, I frost them as soon as I can. But, tonight, I needed to box them up so that I could take them to the party with me and I knew that I could frost them once I got to Crystal and Brandon's.

Clean up was almost a snap Thursday night. The baking mats are awesome. Why has it taken me so long to get them? I have no clue, but I do know that I won't ever go without again!

Thursday, December 18, 2008


So tonight is probably going to be a night that I regret. Why, you ask? So here goes...

Tomorrow at lunch time is our work Christmas party and I've signed up to make hash brown casserole, which is something that I have never done before. It will be an adventure. I like trying new things, but this is a family specialty that I would rather leave to the experts (like my Mom and Jen).

In addition to making the casserole, I've just had a request come in for "Beckie's Banging Cookies". The request comes from Dan's coworker's (Crystal) husband, Brandon. They're having a Christmas party Saturday night and we've been invited. Dan sent me an e-mail with the subject line "Request" and I just knew what it was. I must have ESP or I just know Brandon all too well. Since I will be making these for a Christmas party, I think that I'm going to have to make a double batch. Even better.

Since I don't keep the ingredients for my cookies on hand (I'd make them all the time if I did and that doesn't help me out at all), I need to go to my favorite place in the whole wide world for the 3rd time in as many days. I think that Dan will kill me if I drag him there again. Oh well, the joys of living with me.

In addition to making and baking, I still need to wrap Christmas presents. I have the one for tomorrow's work party and then the one's for Dan's family. I know, I'm being too nice by wrapping those, but they are from both of us and he's working on the cards for our special presents (which he can keep that job because I lack the creativity). Oh, and packing needs to be done as well for my extended vacation is FREEZING Rottenchester. I hate packing! Lisa wants me to see her on my way up there, so I'm trying to figure out if I can work it all out. I wish that I had one more annual leave day so that I could take off a day early to go see her. Maybe we'll get out early enough for me to leave.

I will post pics of my goodies later on and the recipes will be there as well. Oh, I do have one exciting thing to look forward to tonight. I've read somewhere that someone loves the silicone baking sheets and I found a 3 pack at BJs the other night and bought them, so I get to try them out. Hopefully they work!!!! I will let you know.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas Cookies

Our gingerbread couples!

Yesterday afternoon, I found myself at Carleen's to bake our Christmas cookies. We started around 12:30 and finally finished around 4:30. It was a fun day for both of us, and of course, we finished it off with a glass of wine!

To start off our baking fun, we made simple sugar cookies. I had the pleasure of rolling the dough out. I can't remember the last time I actually had to roll out dough since all I ever seem to make is drop cookies. Cutting out the cookies was fun. The cookie cutters we had were: snowflake, star, candy cane, stocking, circles, and a gingerbread man (which didn't make it's presence until the gingerbread dough).

Here's a picture of some of the cookies. Yes, some do look a little brown, but they taste just as good!

One we used up all but a little blob of the sugar cookie dough, we moved on to the gingerbread dough! That was a fun dough to work with. How do you not love the smell of gingerbread? Makes my mouth water as I'm writing this. Most of the dough was turned into gingerbread men, but we threw some snowflakes and candy canes in there as well. As we were finishing up, Carleen decided that we needed gingerbread girls. She even made legs/shoes for them before using up the little blob to make a fish.

So after all of our hard work rolling, cutting out, and baking, we still were not done. What good is a cookie if it doesn't have any frosting?! Exactly! So off to work again. We used Betty Crocker Whipped frosting and Lowe's Food frosting and for our colors we used the Betty Crocker food coloring gels, which is what I would recommend using from now on since you do get more vibrant colors. In addition to the frosting, we had cinnamon balls, crystal sprinkles of a variety of colors, sugar circles and flowers, and gel icing (which Carleen forgot all about until the very end).

After all was said and done, we relaxed with a glass of wine and then I was on my way home to get ready for the party at Gail's (Carleen's neighbor), which is why we made so many cookies.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Gingerbread Cookie Dough

So, we've been invited to a Dirty Santa party tomorrow night (thanks Carleen). Carleen was making cookies on Sunday (Tina and I helped her frost them) and we agreed that we needed to make more for tomorrow night's party. Well, I decided that I was going to make the dough tonight so that we could get right into baking our cookies tomorrow afternoon. Now, I've made gingerbread cookies once before and that was three years ago and I was using someone else's cookbook, so I had to search for a different recipe. After searching for quite some time, I came across an old cookbook in my kitchen and found a recipe for 1 cookie dough that can be used 12 different ways! Sounds perfect for me!

To start things off, I had to get all of my ingredients together...

So here is the recipe:

2 3/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground gloves
3/4 c dark brown sugar (packed)
1/2 c. butter (1 stick) (softened)
1/4 c. dark molasses
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

1. On waxed paper, combine flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.
2. In a large bowl, with mixer on medium speed, beat butter and brown sugar for a minute, or until creamy, occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula. Add egg, vanilla, and molasses; beat until well mixed. Reduce speed to low.
3. Gradually beat in flour mixture until just blended (don't forget to scrape the bowl every now and again to get all of the flour mixed in.
4. Divide dough into 3 equal pieces (I left mine in one big blob). Flatten each into a disk shape; wrap in plastic wrap. Put in fridge for 2 hours or overnight, until firm enough to roll.
5. Preheat over to 350 degrees. Between two sheets of waxed paper, roll the dough to 1/8 inch thick. Remove top sheet. Flour cookie cutters and cut out as many cookies as possible. Place cookies on ungreased cookie sheet, 1 inch apart and bake 11 to 13 minutes or until edges are brown (or until you think so!). Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool.
6. Repeat until you use up all the dough.
7. After the cookies are cool, you can frost them anyway you want.

So my dough is hanging out in the fridge tonight, waiting to go to Carleen's tomorrow. I will do my best to take pictures of our cookies for you to see.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Trying something new

So I've decided to give this blog thing a try. My little sister is always telling me to go check out other people's blogs and I hate to say this, but I've become addicted. And looking at all of the amazing recipes makes me want to try it out. So I'm going to do my best at posting things that I make. I prefer baking, but I will try other cooking recipes. So let's hope that this works out.