Monday, December 13, 2010

Advent Activities: Days 10-12

The ongoing saga of my attempts to fit a little holiday fun into each and every day of December continues...

Day 10:  We made homemade hot chocolate and marshmallows.  If you think making marshmallows is too fussy, I'm here to tell you it's incredibly easy! In fact, I had all the ingredients in my pantry! I used Martha Stewart's recipe and they turned out great.  Just keep in mind that homemade marshmallows don't last long.  After about a day or two they get oily and soggy and yucky.  So you must eat them all in one sitting.  (After all, you don't want to throw them away, do you?) For the hot cocoa, I followed a recipe in Mark Bittman's iconic cookbook, How To Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food. The best thing about the recipe?  Mark recommends that you use a blender to whip all the ingredients together and then heat them up.  The result was a very frothy, chocolatey drink.

Day 11: The dreaded Gingerbread House day.  You know I've been afraid of this one.  I'll admit that I cheated.  I went to Trader Joe's and I purchased a kit.  With the kit, I was able to turn this into a super easy project.  My daughter got to assemble a gingerbread house and I didn't have to expose her to new swear words as I tried to make gingerbread that would work for home construction.

Day 12:  My daughter wanted to make Hershey's recipe for Peanut Butter Blossom cookies, so we baked some yesterday.  My tips for making cookies like these?  Whenever I need to bake something with peanut butter, I use natural peanut butter.  You will get a stronger, peanut taste by using the natural kind.  I also use a melon baller to scoop out the batter, then roll it into balls.  By using the melon baller, I can be sure that my cookies will turn out uniform in size.  (I use an ice cream scoop for muffin and cupcake batter for the same reason.)

What is your favorite holiday cookie recipe?  Do you have any baking tips or tricks to share?