My Favorite Children’s Cookbook

Kids Cooking: A Very Slightly Messy Manual by Klutz

Growing up, my most-loved cookbook was from Klutz publishing: Kids Cooking, A Very Slightly Messy Manual. It came with a set of colorful (and indestructible)  measuring spoons. I remember using the cookbook to learn how to make scrambled eggs and salads — the basics, usually with a twist. I grew up helping my mother and grandmother cook and bake. It was watching them coupled with the accessibility of Kids Cooking that inspired my love of working in the kitchen. Part of what made this particular cookbook invaluable was that it was written for kids to teach them how to make a meal with limited supervision. In a format that was fun and easy to understand, it did just that.

Did you have a favorite cookbook as a kid? If so, what’s the name of it?

Photo credit: Messi Kids on Ebay.

Christmas DIY

This year I thought I would take it upon myself to make most of the gifts my husband and I would be giving to family and friends. I had time on my side and I love crafts and baking. I decided I would make (and decorate) different kinds of cookies — who doesn’t love cookies?! — and craft snow globes for our three nephews.

These were my projects (not in order):

  1. M&M Cookies
  2. Decorated sugar cookies
  3. Christmas ball cookies
  4. Peppermint crunch milk chocolate chip cookies
  5. Snow globes

Let’s see how I fared!

  • M&M Cookies: good, but not great — A-/B+.

I have made these cookies many times. They’re easy and oh-so-tasty. But thanks to the temperamental (large) toaster oven at our apartment, it made a simple batch of cookies rather complicated. As it turns out, the oven has some temperature problems. I recently received an oven thermometer and (not) much to my surprise, but to my chagrin, the oven heats about 25°F – 75°F higher than the temperature you set it at. And anyone that bakes regularly knows that this can be disastrous to any simple baking project.

So, instead of having nice, chewy, perfect, delicious M&M cookies, they were a bit crunchier than I would have liked. Other than that, they turned out okay. They’re a good color and they still taste delicious.

  • Decorated sugar cookies: good — B.

I got the recipe for Lofthouse Style Sugar Cookies off of Pinterest. I modified it by cutting the dough into Christmas shapes and using a completely different frosting recipe (I will share that another time). I decided to make the cookie dough about a week ago and freeze it until I was ready to bake and decorate.

I have to add a word of warning: sugar cookies can be a real pain in the ass!

This sugar cookie dough is very sticky and it took a lot of flour on the cutting board (and on the cut out pieces) to make it manageable. Then I had to fight through trying not to overwork the dough as I rolled it out.

As for the frosting, I did two different things: I purchased pre-made icing from the store and I made (and colored) buttercream icing. I used the pre-made icing to outline and decorate the cookies, and I used the buttercream icing to cover whole cookies. And it was good that I did!

Some of the cookies I baked were a little browner on top than I would have liked, so I covered them with the buttercream frosting. The ones that turned out looking better were decorated with the pre-made icing. The packaging for the pre-made stuff made it easy to decorate and there was hardly any mess. Also, I think it would have been way more work for me to try to make red, sparkly icing from scratch.

  • Christmas ball cookies: pretty good — A-.

I found these on the Betty Crocker website earlier this year and thought they’d be fun. Making them was a first for me. I thought they were fun and relatively easy. The trick is rolling the balls small enough — it is easy to roll them a bit too big.

The trouble I had here, again, was the dryness of the cookie. I imagined them being a bit softer, but I think that has to do with the oven. For the most part, they turned out cute and tasty! (But they don’t look nearly as good as the ones from the picture — but that’s always how it is, isn’t it?)

  • Peppermint crunch milk chocolate chip cookies: stick to the recipe — C.

A Pinterest experiment gone a bit awry. I had never made these before but thought they would be a good way for me to get rid of the many extra candy canes in our cupboard.

“But the recipe doesn’t call for candy canes!” you say.

No, no it doesn’t. But I often find myself substituting things I don’t like or don’t have on hand for things I do. Most of the time it works out well. This time, not so much.

I failed to realize that the candy canes, being all sugar, would melt and stick and create a mess. They also burned very easily so I had to keep a close eye on them.

So, if you’re thinking about making these cookies, I highly recommend using the Andes Peppermint Crunch chips mentioned in the recipe. I’m sure your cookies will turn out leaps and bounds better than mine.

All in all, the cookie project went pretty well. I picked up a few festive containers at Target and some holiday boxes at Walgreens. I used colored tissue paper and closed them up with decorative ribbon. The real test will be whether or not I hear anything back about them. I figure silence means they were terrible (but probably edible) and anything else is HIGH PRAISE!

Did you make anything for Christmas? If so, how did it turn out?

Holiday cookies.

Oh, as for the snow globes — check back tomorrow to see how it went!

<Thanks to moonstarsandpaper for making the cookie image available for reuse.>

M&M Cookies

I will be spending today and tomorrow baking and decorating cookies — gifts I’ll be giving to family and friends this holiday season. I’m making several different types of cookies, but the M&M cookies are my favorite. My mom made them for me as a special treat during my childhood. They’re relatively easy to make and don’t take much time. Hopefully you’ll like them as much as I do!

Ingredients:
-1/2 c. Crisco
-1/2 c. brown sugar
-1/4 c. granulated sugar
-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1/4 teaspoon water
-1 egg
-1c. + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-3/4 cup M&Ms

Directions:
-Use an electric mixer to blend Crisco and sugars.
-When Crisco and sugars are throughly combined, beat in vanilla extract, water, and egg.
-In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, and salt.
-Gradually add the flour/baking soda/salt mixture into the sugar/egg mixture. Mix well.
-Stir in M&Ms.
-Drop cookie dough from teaspoon onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
-Bake at 375F for 10 – 12 minutes or until golden brown.

Enjoy!

Quiche, anyone?

Quite a few years ago, the museum in my little hometown published a cookbook of local, old-timey recipes which I discovered in my parent’s kitchen after I graduated from college. And moved back in with them since I didn’t have any money. And I started cooking a lot to keep myself occupied and everyone fed. But, I digress.

I discovered a recipe for crab quiche in the local cookbook and modified it. I always find it filling and I also happen to think it makes for great leftovers. Also, it’s Dungeness crab season here on the west coast. Also known as my favorite time of year. So while I’m biding my time between now and the next cold cracked crab feed, I thought I’d share my favorite quiche recipe.

Prep time: 15 – 30 minutes

Bake time: 30 – 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 9 inch pie crust (Pillsbury or other pre-made crust is ok)
  • 1/4lb. mushrooms, sliced (white or cremini work well)
  • minced onion (feel free to use as much or little as you’d like – I normally use ~1/4 cup of white onions or shallots)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cans crabmeat, flaked
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 eggs, well beaten
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup Swiss cheese, shredded

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Press pie crust into round, 9 1/2 inch pie plate. I use this one.
  • Make sure to drain all of the water out of the cans of crab. Leaving it moist means your quiche will taste fishy (and not so tasty!).
  • In a sauce pan, sauté garlic and mushrooms in butter, then add onion, crabmeat, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
  • Mix well-beaten eggs and cream.
  • Add egg and cream mixture to the sautéed ingredients. Mix in half of the Swiss cheese.
  • Pour mixture into the pie plate and top with the remainder of the Swiss cheese.
  • Bake for 45 minutes or until set.
  • Let quiche cool for 5 minutes or so until you cut into it and serve.

Tips:

  • If you’re worried about burning the crust, cover it with tinfoil before you put it in the oven. Remove the tinfoil about 5 – 10 minutes before the quiche is finished.
  • Don’t like Swiss cheese? Try something different like mozzarella or parmesan.

Enjoy!