Christmas Treats #1 — Gingerbread Cookies

Christmas is in two weeks so let’s bake some cookies. First up in my annual Christmas treat posts are ginger bread cookies. I know that gingerbread men are traditional at Christmas time but the disadvantage of small batch cookies is there isn’t a lot of dough to cut cookies out of. You could make the log a little rounder when you wrap them for the fridge and then decorate them with royal icing when they are baked and cooled.

Personally, I like them in all their perfect imperfection dunked in a glass of milk or mug of hot chocolate.

Ginger Bread Cookies

Adapted From the How To Bake Everything Cookbook

Note: Don’t use blackstrap molasses for these cookies

4 TBS butter, softened

1/4 cup molasses

2 TBS sugar

2 TBS packed brown sugar

3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour

3/4 tsp ginger

3/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp baking soda

In a medium bowl, Cream the butter, molasses, white sugar and brown sugar together with an electric mixer until smooth.

In a separate small bowl, add the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Mix well.

Using a rubber spatula, add the flour mixture to the wet mixture in three parts, mixing well after each addition. When all of the  flour is incorporated, turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap. Form the dough into a log and wrap in the plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for at least two hours or overnight.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice the cookies as thinly as possible, about 1/8 inch thick. Put the cookie slices about 2 inches apart on an ugreased baking sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, until the edges are crisp. Watch carefully because the burn easily. Let cool on the sheet for 2 minutes before transferring the cookies to a wire rack to finish cooling. They will keep in an airtight container for 3-4 days.

Cocoa Cranberry Granola Bars

Today someone asked me if I do anything besides cooking and baking. I said yes but I don’t think she believed me so here are somethings I enjoy besides cooking.

1. Spending time with my pets. Although I don’t say much about them here, by far my favorite way to spend my time out of the kitchen is with my pets. I currently have 3 cockatiels, Squeak, Beau and Ella, 6 parakeets, Manny, Milo, Katie, Pepper, Eli, and Skyler, 2 finches, Tucker and Pearl and one rat, Missy. We train, hang out, and play together. They are a major part of my self care. I couldn’t imagine life without them.

Don’t know why they are in the box together

2. I love to watch TV and movies, especially since Covid started. Of course, I love cooking shows like Chopped, The Chef Show, and Somebody Feed Phil. I am also obsessed with the show River Monsters. In October all the best and worst, horror movies hit the streaming services and I am here for all of them. So far the worst horror movie I watched is Silent Hill. For a movie based on an absolutely terrifying game, the movie is oddly devoid of any scares or any tension of any kind. Its very boring.

3. I am currently spending a lot of time crocheting. I am crocheting dish clothes and dish scrubbies for my kitchen. When I am done with that I am going to start on project of making as many things out of these two books as I can as a Christmas present for a friend’s children. I am also going to make a bunch of these as magnets for my fridge because there aren’t many things cuter then tiny crocheted foods.

My yarn box over flows
So freaking cute

4. I play Trivial Pursuit with my friend, Steph. My family quit playing trivia with me years ago because the think I cheat. I don’t and never have. My “problem” is I have a tremendous memory for trivia. I can’t remember my name most days but I can remember the names of a minor character in a movie I saw once when I was 10. Its not my fault. Until I started playing with Steph I never met anyone who could keep up with me at trivia. We have so much fun playing.

So you can see that I do do other things other than cook and bake.

I made this recipe without toasting the grains and it still tasted amazing. Press the granola firmly into the pan because this is what keeps the bars from crumbling. pay special attention to the corners and very middle.

Cocoa Cranberry Granola Bars

Adapted From Sunbutter.com

1 1/2 tsp coconut oil

1 1/4 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds

2 TBS unsweetened coconut flakes

1/4 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped

2 TBS butter, cut into pieces

2 1 /2 TBS honey

2 TBS Sunbutter

1/4 tsp vanilla

1/8 tsp kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover the bottom and sides of of a 4 cup baking dish with foil or parchment paper, use the coconut oil to grease the foil or paper, set aside. Spread the oats and sunflower seeds over a sheet pan and toast for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a medium bowl, combine the toasted oats and sunflower seeds,scoconut, cranberries and cocoa. Stir to combine.

In a small sauce pan, combine butter, honey, Sunbutter, vanilla and salt. Cook on low heat until the butter melts, stirring constantly. Pour the butter mixture of the grain and seed mixture, mix well.

Transfer the mixture to the foil lined pan and use a spatula to spread the mix into the corners and to the sides. Firmly press the mixture into the pan, paying close attention to the corners and the middle. Pressing the granola mixture firmly into the pan is what keeps the bars from crumbling so spend a minute making sure it is press into the pan all over.

Double Cranberry Banana Bread

Two kinds of cranberries in banana bread ??? YES, PLEASE!!! My mom is always wondering why I am constantly looking through cookbooks and cooking magazines. The answer is inspiration. I would have never thought of putting cranberries in banana bread and I think of putting cranberries in just about everything. This quick bread is just so good.

I thought the assertive cranberry would overwhelm the more delicate banana flavor but it didn’t. There is a nice balance between the sweet banana and the tangy cranberry.

Double Cranberry Banana Bread

Adapted from Taste of Home Fall Baking Magazine

2 1/2 TBS canola oil

1/3 cup sugar

1 large egg, room temperature

1/2 cup mashed ripe banana

1/2 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup whole berry cranberry sauce

6 TBS chopped pecans, divided

1/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, cream the sugar and shortening. Beat in the egg, banana, and vanilla. In small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda; mix well.

Gradually add the dry mixture to the wet mixture. Fold in the cranberry sauce, pecans, and dried cranberries; mix well. Divide the batter between two 5″ x 3″ baking pans, sprayed with cooking Bake at 350 degree oven for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes before removing the bread from the pan to cool completely.

Air Fryer Buttermilk Biscuits

It went from 63 degrees to 93 degrees, literally, overnight. Which really doesn’t make me excited to heat up the kitchen by turning on the oven or stove. Fortunately, I have an air fryer that doesn’t heat things up nearly as much. I have been cooking everything I can think of in the air fryer. I think these biscuits from Dessert For Two are my favorite so far.

Buttermilk Biscuits

Recipe from Desserts For Two. Air fryer instructions by me

1 1/3 cups flour

1/2 tsp salt

11/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

4 TBS butter, chilled, cut into small pieces

1/2 cup butter milk, plus more if needed.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder, mix well.

Using two knives or your fingers, cut in the chilled butter until the pieces are no bigger than a pea.

Add buttermilk and mix until combined.

If necessary, add more buttermilk, 1 tablespoon at a time, to bring the dough together.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead the dough until smooth.

Pat dough into a rectangle about a 1/2 inch thick. Cut out 3 biscuits. Pat out the scraps and cut 3 more biscuits.

Place biscuits is the air fryer and bake at 400 degrees for 9- 10 minutes.

Sourdough Biscuits

This is the last sourdough starter recipe I tried before my starter died. It’s so sad because this recipe would have made it to my daily rotation for breakfast. The biscuits were light and fluffy. Perfect for egg and bacon breakfast sandwiches.

Sour Dough Biscuits

Adapted from Food.com

1/2 cup flour

1/8 salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

2 1/2 TBS cold butter, cut into small cubes

1/2 cup sour dough starter

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a small bowl , combine flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.

Using two knives, cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumps about the size of a pea. Add the sourdough starter and mix until combined into a shaggy dough.

Turn out dough onto lightly floured board. Knead a few times, until all of the flour is mixed in.

Pat/roll dough to 3/4″ and cut out biscuits; place them on an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake at 425°F for 12-15 minutes, until slightly brown.