Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Palette Cleanser: Holiday Cookie Recipes

I thought I'd deviate from the art and design world for a moment and post some of my favorite cookies recipes. Baked goods make great gifts for almost everyone. All of these would be great with a hot cup of coffee or tea. Celebrate the season by getting creative in the kitchen and have a wonderful holiday!

Best Chocolate Chip Cookies
I like this cookie for a number of reasons. The chopped oats add extra nutrition and a soft, nutty flavor. I like to add whole wheat flour when I can and reduce sugar. I call these my healthy pleasure.
1 c butter
1 c sugar (3/4 c for lighter taste)
1 c brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 c flour (optional: 1 c all-purpose, 1 c whole wheat)
2 1/2 c quick oats *
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
8 oz chocolate chips or candy-coated chocolate pieces (For the cookies in the photo, I used both candy-coated chocolate pieces and mini chocolate chips.)

Cream the butter and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine flour, oatmeal, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix dry into wet ingredients then add chocolate chips. Roll into teaspoon-sized balls, flatten in your palms, and place two inches apart on a cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes at 375 °. Cool on wire rack.

*Place measured oats in blender or food processor and chop into a flour-like powder.

Chewy Ginger Cookies
This cookie is a hit and they never last long. For a lover of ginger, they're a soft wonder enrobed in caramelized sugar. Another not, when made at a reasonable size, each cookie works out to 1 point in the Weight Watcher's point system.
6 tbls butter, softened
2/3 c sugar
1/4 c molasses
1 egg
2 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
3 tbls sugar

Cream butter; gradually add 2/3 cup sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add molasses and egg; beat well. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients; gradually add to creamed mixture, stirring until well blended. Wrap dough in plastic wrap, and freeze for 30 minutes. Shape dough into 1-inch balls, and roll in remaining 3 tablespoons sugar. Place 2 inches apart on cookie sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350º for 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from sheets; cool on wire racks.

Grandma's Peanut Butter Cookies
The is the recipe my grandmother and I used to bake when I was a child. They hold a special place in my heart. They're not overly nutty, but just enough. Baked just right, they melt in your mouth!
1 c sugar
1 c brown sugar
1 c butter (or 1/2 c butter and 1/2 c shortening)
1 c peanut butter, crunchy or creamy
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 c (approximately) all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt

Combine sugars and butter, beat until creamy. Add peanut butter, eggs, and vanilla. Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl and add to peanut butter mixture gradually. Roll teaspoon amounts of dough into balls and place on a cookie sheet. Dip a fork in sugar and make a crisscross pattern on top of the cookie, flattening slightly. If dough is too sticky to roll immediately, refrigerate for about 30 minutes before rolling. Bake in a preheated 350º oven for 8 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Cool on wire rack.

Chewy Chocolate-Ginger Cookies
I decided to try this recipe (I usually don't like Martha's recipes) and I'm glad I did. I love the heat brought by the fresh grated ginger. They're especially nice with a nice steaming cup of artisan dark roast coffee!
You can find this recipe at here through Martha Stewart's Web site.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Idea Seeds: Santa Claus

Santa Claus is one of the most recognizable symbols of the holiday season. His rosy cheeks, hearty laughter, and flowing white beard seem synonymous with jollity. He's had songs written about him, poems, been featured in plays and movies. He's the star of the most famous parade in America, the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. Santa has also been used in a consecutively successful advertising campaign by none other than Coca-Cola.

Though Santa Claus has a rich and sometimes polarizing history, the version we think of most today was spearheaded by cartoonist and illustrator Thomas Nast in the mid-1800's. Nast was also the 'father' of the Republican and Democrat animal mascots. His Santa, featured on the cover of Harper's Weekly, was portly, wore a hat and fur-trimmed coat, and had a long beard.

A figure like Santa was bound to be popular, but his popularity and image reached new heights when he was tapped to be the holiday spokesperson for Coca-Cola in the 1930's. This image, designed by Haddon Sundbloom, brought the jovial elf into thousands of homes and even caused some to speculate red and white had been chosen for his clothes because they were Coca-Cola's colors. It is believed, however, Santa wore red and white long before then.

Santa Claus is not so much a person as he is a feeling. Most of us can recall the days and nights leading up to Christmas and how excited we all were at the thought of being visited by the man from the North Pole. Being so popular, Santa has been depicted in a myriad of ways. I charge you to use this Idea Seed to come up with your own image of Santa. Be creative, be different, be you. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

"Ho, Ho, Ho Like An Egyptian"
original digital art

Hieroglyphs translate roughly as:
Across the top: Christ the King is born today.
Left side border: Joy to the world
Right side border: the Lord is come
Within the frame: Santa Claus says Merry Christmas