Christmas Cookies 2016

Happy Christmas Eve Day everyone!  I can’t believe this year is almost over!  I haven’t had a lot of time to dedicate to the blog lately (school, work, work, school) but I took a little time off last week and was able to get in some baking!

Here, in no particular order, are this year’s Christmas cookies!  I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season, and a Happy New Year!  See you in 2017!

Gingerbread Man Decorated Cookie

Christmas Tree Decorated Cookie

Ugly Sweater Cookies - Shake Bake and Party

Holiday Spirits

Yup, I said spirits.  Cause who couldn’t use a little nip after climbing up and down a ladder putting up your Christmas lights for the second time in a week because after you put them up the first time one of the strings died and you didn’t have a replacement string that matched so you had to go out to buy all new lights and then take the first set down so you could put the new strings up… Ho ho ho.

So after I did all that I put together some simple gifts with a boozy twist.  First up – some presents for my annual Christmas lunch with a group of friends.  I found these adorable towels and glasses at The Christmas Tree Shops.

Inexpensive Christmas Gifts with a Boozy Twist from Shake Bake and Party #margarita #cocktails

Add a ready-to-drink mini margarita bottle and you have fun, festive gift for under $10!

Inexpensive Christmas Gifts with a Boozy Twist from Shake Bake and Party #margarita #christmas #cocktails

Next up – something that would make a perfect gift for a group of coworkers!  I found a box set containing 12 different hot cocoa mixes at Big Lots for $10.  Then I headed over to the liquor store and picked out an airplane bottle of liquor to go with each flavor of cocoa.

Inexpensive Coworker Gifts - Spiked Hot Cocoa Kits from Shake Bake and Party #hotcocoa #booze #gifts

It was so much fun coming up with different flavor combinations! Cinnamon cocoa meet honey whiskey;  gingerbread makes a perfect pair with Baileys Irish Cream…  There are a ton of possibilities! Play your cards right with the booze selections and you can knock out a dozen gifts for less than $5 per person!  Your friends at work will thank you when they are sipping on a spiked hot cocoa after a long day of last minute Christmas shopping.

Do you give Christmas gifts to coworkers? I’d love to hear some of your ideas!

 

 

Saturday Night Sips – Hot Buttered RumChata

A few Christmases ago I made a delicious Colonial Hot Buttered Rum recipe that I found on Allrecipes.com.  It was so simple (you make it in the slow cooker!) and SO delicious!  I served it at my family Christmas dinner and everyone raved about it.

I decided that I wanted to make it again today – it’s Saturday and it’s cold, why not? 😉  I changed it up just a bit though and I am in love with the results!  This recipe was awesome before but when you swap out half of the rum for RumChata…

Hot Buttered RumChata is the perfect drink to warm you up on a cold winter night! #cocktails #rum #slowcooker

This is FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC!!!!!!!!!!!!  I could sit and drink this all day.  It warms you up from the inside and the flavor stays on your lips (if you’re into buttered rum kisses).

Hot Buttered RumChata is the perfect drink to warm you up on a cold winter night! #cocktails #rum #rumchata #slowcooker

Hot Buttered RumChata (adapted from Colonial Hot Buttered Rum submitted to Allrecipes.com by Linda Correia)

Ingredients

2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup of butter
1 pinch of salt
8 cups of hot water
2 cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves
1 cup of Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum
1 cup of RumChata
Whipped cream and ground nutmeg for garnish (if desired)

Directions

1. Combine the brown sugar, butter, salt and hot water in a 5 quart (or larger) slow cooker.  Add cinnamon sticks and cloves.
2. Cover and cook on low for 5 hours.
3. Stir in the Spiced Rum and the RumChata.
4. Ladle into mugs (or awesome cups like the ones shown in the photo from SucreShop), top with whipped cream and ground nutmeg.

*** A note on RumChata curdling: Several commenters have said that they had trouble with the RumChata curdling when added to the hot butter/water mixture.  I did not encounter this issue but I have done a little research and think it may be due to temperature.  RumChata does contain dairy, which can curdle when added to very hot liquid.  My RumChata had not been in the refrigerator (once opened it can be stored at room temperature for six months) and my low setting on my slow cooker doesn’t get super hot.  If you are using RumChata that has been in the refrigerator I’d suggest measuring it out and letting it warm up to room temperature.  If your water/butter mixture is boiling hot, let it cool some before adding the RumChata.  You can also temper the RumChata first by measuring it into a bowl or cup, and then bit by bit pour some of the butter/water mixture into the RumChata, effectively bringing it up to the same temperature before adding it to the slow cooker.  A last note – if you have been storing your RumChata at room temperature and it is much older than 6 months it may just be on the verge of going bad. ***

Makes 8 servings.

Hot Buttered RumChata is the perfect drink to warm you up on a cold winter night! #cocktails #rum #rumchata #slowcooker

This recipe can easily be scaled down to make fewer servings.  I made half a batch tonight but I wish I had made more!  It takes just a few minutes to throw together and once it’s done you can just keep it warm in the slow cooker until every last drop is gone.  It’s a perfect drink for Christmas, a New Year’s Eve party or any random winter weekend!

This Hot Buttered RumChata is the perfect drink to warm you up on a cold winter's night! #rum #rumchata #slowcooker #drinkrecipe

Cheers folks!

Winter Wonderland Cookies

Winter Wonderland Decorated Cookies

I think this might be my new favorite cookie set.  I love the icy blue, the sparkly glitter, and the happy little snowmen with their “carrot” noses (aka orange sprinkles!).  It’s been snowing a lot here in NJ already, so even though it technically isn’t even Winter yet we’ve definitely had quite a few Winter Wonderland days.

Snowmen, Snowflake and Mitten Cookies | Shake Bake and Party

Or perhaps it’s only been more like Winter Wonderland hours.  Unfortunately, living in a highly populated area with lots of cars and dirt and whatnot means that the snow doesn’t stay sparkly and white for a long time. 😦

Winter Wonderland Cookies | Shake Bake and Party

There is no need to worry about these cookies getting dingy though!  They will stay as pristine and lovely as the freshly fallen snow…

Snowman Cookie | Shake Bake and Party

…until you eat them!

Dark Chocolate Mint Chip Cookies

Hello all!  It’s that time of year – cookie baking madness has taken over many a household.  I heard from someone who baked 15 dozen cookies on Saturday, and another friend made 8 different types of cookies!  My Facebook newsfeed was filled with pictures of thumbprints, chocolate chip cookies, sugar cookies and all kinds of other tasty goodies!  I LOVE IT!

I too was was bitten by the cookie baking bug and of course, I made more cake mix cookies.  It’s been… well, it’s only been a few days since my last cake mix cookie post, but that’s long enough – right?!

Dark Chocolate Mint Chip Cookies | Shake Bake and Party

I also took the opportunity to get out my Snoopy cookie jar!  Isn’t it cute?

Dark Chocolate Mint Chip Cookies | Shake Bake and Party

In case you haven’t read any of my posts raving about cake mix cookies before, I’ll give you a quick run-down.  They are simple, customizable and delicious!  If you have never made them before, you must try them and if you have made them before then you are probably making some more right now because they are THAT GOOD!

These ones are dark chocolatey, chewy, minty Christmas cookie happiness.  If you have any mint fans in your household these are a must bake!

Dark Chocolate Mint Chip Cookies | Shake Bake and Party

Dark Chocolate Mint Chip Cookies
(adapted from Funfetti Cheesecake Cookies by Kitchen Meets Girl)

Ingredients

1 box devil’s food cake mix
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1/3 and 1/4 cup Nestle® Toll House® Winter Dark Chocolate and Mint Morsels, divided

Directions

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2.  Combine cake mix, oil and eggs in a medium bowl until a dough forms.  Mix in 1/3 cup of the morsels.
3.  Roll dough into small balls and place 2 inches apart on cookie sheets.  Flatten the cookie balls slightly and then press a few of the remaining morsels onto the top of each cookie.
4.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.  Remove from oven, cool for 2 minutes and then move to a wire rack.

Makes about 18 cookies.

Black Friday Giveaway – $500 Value!!

Hi Everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Once you have emerged from your food coma, or returned from a marathon Black Friday shopping session I have an awesome giveaway for you to enter! I have joined up with 41 other bloggers to give you the chance to win one of the fabulous items below.

Since I’m currently running on WordPress.com the Rafflecopter form for the giveaway will not display on my lowly blog – you will need to click the link at the end of the post that says “a Rafflecopter giveaway” OR head over to Living Better Together – the blog of the lovely lady who organized this whole thing (thanks Rebecca!) – and enter there. Good luck!

42 blogs are bringing you an amazing giveaway to get your holiday season underway! We’re hoping to make the holiday season easier for one of our lucky readers, $500.00 worth of easier that is! 
 
The winner will be able to choose from an XBOX 360 Kinect Nike+ Bundle, a Kindle Fire HD 8.9″, or a KitchenAid 5 Quart Stand Mixer in the color of your choice! Oh and to top it all off, we’re going to give you the difference in an Amazon gift card to make your grand prize total $500.00
 
For example, if you choose the Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ as your prize, it’s $229.00. 
$500.00-$229.00=$271 Amazon gift card. 
Amounts based on price at time of shipment.
 
Sounds like something you’d like to win, right? Well, without further rambling, on to the giveaway! Good luck!

Christmas Cupcakes In July

We are just coming off of a seemingly endless stretch of 90+ degree days here in NJ.  It’s been a hot, humid and VERY rainy summer so far – a lot more like the tropics than the Mid-Atlantic.  The weather has been more conducive to loafing around on the couch in the A/C watching old Law & Order: SVU episodes on Netflix than it has been to baking.  Who wants to turn on an oven inside when it FEELS like an oven outside?  Not this girl.

Luckily things have finally cooled down a bit, just in time for me to bake some cupcakes for our Christmas in July celebration at work today!

Spiked Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

I was having a hard time getting in the spirit of things and deciding on a flavor so I did a little poll on my Facebook page.  I had quite a few good suggestions: eggnog, gingerbread, red velvet.  I was leaning towards eggnog until someone mentioned peppermint.  Mint is not only Christmasy, it’s also cool and refreshing – perfect for hot weather!

I was inspired by these Peppermint Hot Chocolate Cupcakes from easybaked but I knew I wanted to add a splash of booze to my cupcakes – they are for a holiday party after all 😉

Spiked Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

24 cooled chocolate cupcakes, prepared in the manner of your choice (I used Pillsbury Devil’s Food cake mix)

To make the frosting:

Heat 1/2 cup of milk, half & half or heavy cream either on the stove top or in the microwave.  Dissolve one packet of instant hot chocolate mix in the milk and let cool.

In a stand mixer combine:

1 stick softened butter
1/2 cup shortening
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons peppermint schnapps
10 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 cup cooled hot chocolate

The bowl for my mixer isn’t that big, so I started off with 5 cups of the confectioners sugar, mixed that with all the other ingredients and then added the other 5 cups of confectioners sugar.

Frost cooled cupcakes then add mini marshmallows (I used mini chocolate ones) and a peppermint candy for garnish.

Hot Chocolate Cupcakes with Peppermint Schnapps

Did anyone else celebrate Christmas in July this year?  Only 152 days until the real deal!!

The 12 Daze of Christmas

Today I got a little break from the pre-Christmas running around madness.  Presents are all wrapped, cookies are baked, make-ahead mashed potatoes for Christmas Eve dinner are made…ahead.  What better way to enjoy some downtime than with a cocktail?

chocolate caramallow cocktail

This drink was inspired by those chocolate covered marshmallow and caramel santas that you can buy at the drugstore this time of year.  I love those things!

While I was whipping this up, I thought of a Christmas song called The 12 Daze of Christmas by Fay McKay.  It’s not something they ever play on the radio – I’m not even sure how I ever heard it in the first place – but they should, because it’s freaking hilarious.

So if you too could use a little drink and some music to unwind this evening, play that and make this:

Chocolate Caramallow 2

Chocolate Caramallow Cocktail

1 oz Pinnacle Marshmallow Vodka
2 oz Godiva Chocolate Liqueur
splash of half & half
ice
caramel sundae syrup, chocolate syrup and marshmallows for garnish (optional)

Combine marhsmallow vodka, chocolate liqueur, half & half, and ice in a cocktail shaker and shake until frosty.  Drizzle caramel sundae syrup inside martini glass, then pour in drink.  Garnish with marshmallows and chocolate syrup.

 

Holiday Wanderings

I’ve been doing quite a bit of Christmas-y stuff the past week.  First, I put together gift tins full of goodies for my coworkers.  I made chocolate covered Oreos (Double Stuff, of course), cute little candy cane striped cups full of Christmas gummies, personalized stocking cookies, and a treat I found on Pinterest – Cinnamon Sugar White Chocolate Pretzels (or what I now refer to as Christmas Crack – it’s THAT good)!

Chocolate Covered Oreos

Cute Christmas tin I got at the dollar store!
Filled Tin
No calories there!

Stocking Cookies

I also went with a bunch of friends to see the Holiday Pops show.   Before the concert we had lunch at Max Brenner, where I had this lovely concoction:

Yummy drinks at Max Brenner!

This wasn’t the first time I got to have this drink, called Satisfaction Guaranteed, and it was every bit as good as I remembered!

After lunch we headed over to the Kimmel Center to see Peter Nero and the Philly Pops!

Holiday Pops Concert
Love the architecture at the Kimmel Center!

Once the show was over, we wandered around the city quite a bit.  We went to Love Park to check out the Christmas Village and the tree at City Hall (which was not actually at City Hall this year due to some construction mess).

Lights on Broad Street
City Hall tree, at Love PArk

All the walking made us hungry again and we ended up a my favorite restaurant, Jones, where I had some excellent baked mac and cheese.

Jones Restaurant, 7th and Chestnut

The next night I baked cookies with this candy cane sugar cookie dough made by Pillsbury.  I found it with the refrigerated doughs.  I dipped some of the cookies in melted dark chocolate, and drizzled the chocolate on others.  I also made some chocolate covered marshmallows and put it all together on a tray to take to work.

cookie tray

The cookies were really good, so I went looking for another package of the dough at the grocery store this morning but couldn’t find any. 😦  Bah humbug!

Last but not least, I headed over to Christmas Madness Central with my brother to take some pictures.

IMG_2206
Insanity!

I could hear their electric meters whirring from across the street, and I swear as you round the corner onto the street where these two houses are the air actually feels warmer.  I wonder if they can been seen from outer space…

So there’s a sample of what’s been keeping me busy the past few days!  Since the world didn’t end this morning I’ll probably be baking some more cookies today!  Hope everyone is enjoying all the fun this time of year has to offer!