Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Gifts From Your Kitchen

Don't groan, but with less than 2 months till Christmas, it's time to make your list and check it twice.  This is a year where many of us are looking for ways to make nice gifts for friends, that don't involve a lot of time, or money, and have I got a deal for you.  

For the rest of this week, I will be posting recipes for great mixes to make to give as gifts to your friends and family.  Combine two or three in a basket, or give one as a hostess gift, or to your neighbors.  You can be as creative as you'd like, I'll just be your coach, and feel free to e-mail me and let me know how you are doing---photos of you and your family/friends making mixes are always welcome here!

Sugar Cookie Mix
Makes about 3 1/2 cups

1 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoons vanilla powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
Mix all the ingredients together and store in an airtight jar or container.  Label with a 2 month expiration date.  If you don't include the vanilla powder, make sure to add 1 tablespoon vanilla extract to the ingredients in the recipe card.

Recipe Card:

Awesome Cut Out Sugar Cookies

One package Sugar Cookie Mix
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup sifted confectioners' sugar

In a large bowl, cream the butter until smooth, add the Sugar Cookie Mix, egg, and milk and beat until the mixture begins to come together.  
Shape the dough into two balls, and flatten slightly.  Wrap each in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours, until firm.  
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line baking sheets with silicone liners.  
Sprinkle the rolling surface with some of the confectioners' sugar.  Using one half of the dough, roll it out about 1/8-inch thick, and cut into 2-inch shapes with seasonal cookie cutters.  Place the cookies 1-inch apart on the baking sheets and bake for 7 minutes, until lightly browned on the edges. Cool for 2 minutes on the baking sheets, and remove to wire racks to cool completely.  Repeat with the second 1/2 of the dough, until all the cookies are baked.     


Makes about 6 cups
6 cups confectioners' sugar
2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon vanilla paste or extract
1/4 cup milk as needed to thin the frosting

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the sugar and butter together until smooth.  Add the vanilla and dribble in enough milk to make the frosting spreading consistency.  Divide the frosting into 3 or 4 bowls, and tint the bowls with food colors of the season, and keep one white.  Fill pastry bags, and pipe the frosting onto cooled cookies. 

I picture giving this gift in a variety of ways; one would be to present the mix in a basket with cookie cutters, sprinkles, and edible decorations for the season.  Another way is to give the mix in a jar, and tie a cookie cutter to the ribbon on the jar, along with the recipe card.  For the pint-sized chef, you could make up a basket with an apron, chef's hat, small rolling pin, and all the things necessary to make these cookies. 
Whichever way you choose to give this gift, it will be one that will bring lots of joy to the family that eats these cookies.  

This is a basket I made last year for an auction; I did cheat, and used a pre-prepared cookie mix.  

There's a bit of food for thought---I'll be back on Friday or Saturday with another mix for you to tuck away in your recipe file, until then, remember that it's the thought that counts.  
If you are looking for more mix ideas here's a great book with lots of cooking and non-cooking ideas. 

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