Monday, November 21, 2011

Giveaway Winner is...

The winner to my first ever giveaway is Michelle!!!  Congratulations Michelle!  

Michelle said...

This holiday season I am helping my company put on a charity Christmas party for under privileged children. Every child will be getting 3 presents and a day of fun activities!! This will be my second year helping out, I love how happy it makes the children!

I will be heading to Boston tomorrow for Thanksgiving!  I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving!  Be thankful for all the great things in your life!  

Saturday, November 19, 2011

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas... and a GIVEAWAY!!

Two days ago, I was at the mall looking at Christmas stuff when I heard on the radio that we were under a Snowfall Warning.  They were talking about how much snow we had already gotten that day (which was NONE were I lived) and how much more we might get.  I was thinking that it would miss us.  Nope!

This happened to be my husband's hockey night, so off he went.  No snow.  Well, about 11pm, everything was covered!  The cars were having trouble driving too.  So being the worrier that I am, I called my husband to see when he would be on his way.  Luckily, he drives an SUV and did not have trouble getting home.  But I definitely felt like a worried Mom whose newly licensed child was out in the snow.  

The snow was still there the next day.  I decided that Saturday (today!!!) would be the day that I decorate for Christmas!  Well, all the snow has melted by now and there is no snow in the forecast.  Oh well, it still feels like Christmas to me.  

So, in honor of my decorating day, I am sharing some Christmas cookies that I made.  

***The giveaway is closed***
Oh yes, and a GIVEAWAY!  

This is the first giveaway for Desserts by Annie!  I have more than 100 fans on Facebook, so I want to share some Christmas goodies with 1 lucky reader!!!

Giveaway includes:
Christmas tree silcone baking cups, Set of 4 snowflake cookie cutters, Cookie Pop ornament, Package of Treat boxes, Treat bags, AND some other Christmas cookie cutters not pictured!!!

How to Enter:
  1. "Like" my Facebook page.  Then, leave me a comment on this blog telling me you did so.
  2. "Follow" my blog.  Leave a comment on this blog telling me you did so.
  3. Leave a comment on here telling me something you are doing this holiday season to help someone else.  
Be sure to leave your email address so I can contact you if you win!!!  Each person has 3 different ways to enter.  All comments must be on THIS blog.  Giveaway only open to US and Canadian residents.  This giveaway is not sponsored by anyone and all items are supplied by myself.  This giveaway is open until MONDAY November 21 at 8pm EST.  A winner will be announced Monday evening.  

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Edible Christmas Gifts #3 Candied Orange Zest

I LOVE candied orange zest!  It has that great natural orange taste in a candy!  

Now, this edible gift does take some time to make.  You need to make this when you have a few hours.  You really are only working for the first 20-30 minutes and then the last 10.  So I promise it will be worth it!  

3 oranges
1 -1 1/2 cups sugar

*The good thing about this recipe, there is no precise measurements here.  If you want to make a lot at a time (it will keep for awhile, at least a month) make more than 3 oranges.  Or, if this is your first time and you just want to try it out, start with 1 or 2.  

Directions: (pictures to go with the directions below recipe)
  • Wash the oranges.
  • Cut the top and the bottom off of the orange so they stand up.  
  • With a serrated knife, cutting down, cut slices of orange peel.  
  • If you choose, you can cut or "shave off" some of the white part of the rind, which can be bitter.  (I did 2 batches to test this out.  One where I removed the white part, and one where I did not.  I found them both to be delicious as long as you cook them longer enough.  So do whichever you prefer.)
  • Cut them into the desired size.  I did some long strips, and smaller pieces.
  • Put in a pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil, and then drain the water.  This helps to remove the bitterness.  Repeat.
  • After you have boiled and drained twice, fill with water again and add about a half a cup of sugar.  
  • Cook until the peels start to turn translucent and tender.  The time will vary depending on how big you cut them.  Anywhere from 1 hour to 2 hours.  (Let them simmer away on the stove and stir occasionally.  Do something else during this time, just keep an eye on them.)
  • Drain the peels again and put on a silpat or parchment lined tray.  
  • Sprinkle about a half cup sugar on and mix the peels and sugar together.  Let dry for at least 8 hours, preferably overnight.  You will need to stir them around so they dry completely.  
  • Store in a air tight container for about a month.  
*You can also dip the dry orange peels into chocolate and let dry.  Chocolate and orange are delicious together!  

Package these in plastic bags and tie shut with a pretty ribbon or twist tie, or put them in a pretty holiday tin! 

Also, try this recipe with lemons or grapefruits! 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Edible Christmas Gifts #2- Chewy Orange Spice Cookies

For my second Edible Christmas Post, I wanted to make some cookies!  These cookies are so delicious, they are almost gone within 24 hours.  In fact, I am eating one as I write this post :-) 

Chewy Orange Spice Cookies

3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup dark molasses
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tbsp. orange zest
2 1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 cup sugar

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • In electric mixer, or using a bowl and hand mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add the egg, molasses, orange juice and orange zest.  Mix until combined.
  • Mix the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and salt together.  Gradually add to mixer until blended.  
  • Put sugar in a small bowl.  Roll the dough into 1 1/2 inch balls, and roll in the sugar.  
  • Arrange the balls on a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper.  
  • Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, or until firm to the touch.  
  • Cool and enjoy!
*These cookies will keep well for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container.  Great cookies to give as gifts because they will stay good for awhile!

These moist and chewy cookies are sure to be a holiday favorite!  

Package them in a small, clear bag and tie with a beautiful holiday ribbon, or nestle them in a box lined with parchment paper!

Be sure to check out King Arthur Flour's website for everything you need for your holiday baking!  Supplies, ingredients, packaging and more!  

Happy Baking!  

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Edible Christmas Gifts #1- Homemade Vanilla Extract

Welcome to my Edible Christmas Gift series!

One of my favorite Christmas gifts to give is a gift basket full of homemade treats.  It is such a thoughtful and personalized gift.  

You can customize the basket to the recipient's taste.  Baskets can have many different themes; coffee lovers, chocolate lovers, breakfast baskets, or baskets for kids just to name a few.    

I know that I have been there many times.  You're stuck thinking "What on earth am I going to get for this person?"  Maybe a gift basket would be the perfect present.  I have always thought a gift that you can eat or use is always a good gift!

Have someone in mind, but think a basket might be too big?  Perfect... you can still make some tasty treats and put them in a pretty gift bag.  Any way you package it, edible gifts will make a nice gift!  

The first gift I am going to show you is Homemade Vanilla Extract.  Now, I cannot take full credit for this idea.  I never realized how you can make vanilla extract until last Christmas when my sister, Gail, made vanilla extract as part of a gift basket.  Once I used all the of extract, I kept the bottle that she made it in with the vanilla beans inside.  I simply put a new vanilla bean inside and added new vodka.  

Here's how it works.

All you need is:
  • a bottle to keep the vanilla extract in
  • 2 vanilla beans
  • vodka
Simple enough right?!  

  • Cut the vanilla beans in half lengthwise and put inside of the bottle.
  • Fill the bottle up almost full with the vodka. 
  • Shake the bottle up to get the vanilla beans to come out of the pod.  It will start off very light in color.  The longer it sits, the more the color develops.
  • Store in a dark, cool place for 1-2 months.  Shake 1-2 a week.  

Vanilla extract on Day 1.

Vanilla extract on Day 14.

After I started this vanilla extract, I ended up using all of my vanilla bean paste.  There were still lots of vanilla bean specks in the bottle and I didn't want to waste them!  So, I just added some vodka and shook it up.  Now, I am letting it sit for a few weeks to then use as vanilla extract!

After you let your vanilla extract sit in a dark, cool place for a month or two, simply add a pretty peel and stick label on the front.  Either hand write it or print it from the computer.  Print labels look nice and professional, and a hand written label gives that real homemade feel.  

So now you have your first edible gift idea.  Once we have made a few things, I will show you how I wrap everything up as a gift basket or gift bag!

Keep an eye out for the next gift idea coming soon!  

First Christmas Cookies of the Year!

I know, I know.  Thanksgiving is not even here yet, and here I am talking about Christmas! 

First of all, I can't help it!  Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year and holiday.  As much as I love getting presents myself, I love giving gifts to others too.  I love it all.  From the shopping in crazy crowds for the gifts, to finding all the right coordinating wrappings, and ESPECIALLY the wrapping part!  

I mean, I really love to wrap.   I would always ask my mom if I could help her with any wrapping.  So, I would wrap gifts for my dad, sister and cousins.  Once I got to be older, and I would sometimes pick out some of my own presents from Santa, I would wrap those too!  And I most definitively always wrapped gifts from my dad!  I have even been known to wrap empty boxes to make it look fuller under the Christmas tree.  

Also, we just had our first snowfall on Friday 11/11/11!  I wasn't feeling well, and I was up at 7am (which is crazy early for me these days!) and when I saw snow covering everything outside, I first thought I was dreaming or seeing things.  Nope, everything was covered!  I woke my husband up and made him look too!  We had no idea... I guess we hadn't been looking at the weather lately. 

So that has put me in the Christmas mood!  

Yesterday, we went to Crate and Barrel and I got all new Christmas ornaments.  I have decided that its time to replace my cheap, plastic ornaments that my college roommates and I bought our Sophomore year.  I just got married, so its time for some nicer ornaments.  I desperately want to decorate, but my husband says I need to wait.  OK, well he will be busy all day next Saturday so that just may be my decorating day!  

Back to the cookies!

I made these cookies for one of my favorite Christmas movies.  See if you can figure out the movie!


I love this movie.  I watch it every year!  It's up there with Home Alone and The Santa Clause.  

For those of you who are not familiar with the movie and are thinking what do some of these things have to do with this movie.  

North Pole- Buddy grew up as an Elf at the North Pole. 
Green hat- part of Buddy's elf clothes.
Snowflake- pretty self explanatory right?
The Code of Elves- what the elves live by.
Naughty List- When Buddy found out that his biological dad lives in NYC, Santa told him that his dad is on the naughty list.
Snowman- Leon was the snowman that Buddy talks to before he leaves for NYC.
Snow globe- Papa Elf gives Buddy the snow globe before he leaves for NYC.  The Empire State Building is in the front, which is where his dad works.
Candy, Candy canes, Candy corn and Syrup- Elves 4 main food group
Music note- lots of singing in the movie
NYC Taxi- most of the movie is in New York City.  Several times, Buddy almost gets hit (sometimes does get hit) by taxis.
Bowl of Spaghetti- Buddy loves spaghetti with syrup on top!
Clausometer- It detects how many people believe in Santa, and the more people that believe, the more power it gives to Santa's sleigh.  

Leave me a post and tell me what YOUR favorite holiday movie is!