The summer went by way too quickly, and it’s already time for the first day of the 2019-2020 school year! Yesterday was spent doing a few last fun things before we get back to work…playing board games, baking cookies, building a Lego set, and having an Iron Man movies marathon:
Today, on the other hand, was “cleaning day.” We got the school ready (more or less) for another year of learning. Surprisingly, not too much has changed in the last year, just some minor rearranging, which is very unusual for us!
We had a “Farewell to Summer” dinner tonight…ribs, corn on the cob, baked beans, watermelon, and root beer floats for dessert. We also watched Detective Pikachu, which was a really cute movie, even for someone like me, who isn’t too familiar with Pokemon.
And the outfits are ready for tomorrow morning!
Everything else that needs to be ready for tomorrow is good to go…I put the schultüte together (but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see their contents), organized the bookshelves, and got all the new workbooks sorted out and put on desks. I’m looking forward to beginning our 12th year of homeschooling!
Another Advent and Christmastide has come and gone all too quickly. As always, we enjoyed baking (and eating) a lot of treats along the way!
We didn’t make quite as many cookies this year, but we made all of our favorite kinds…thumbprints in two flavors (raspberry and apricot), chocolate peppermint crunch (those are the ones we didn’t make as many of…I only made about half of what we usually bake), sugar, and gingerbread:
I’ve made Oreo truffles in the past, but I’ve never made an Oreo truffle Christmas tree…pretty and delicious!
I baked three different cakes in about two weeks’ time. Chocolate for Jesus’ birthday, a more formal tuxedo cake for New Year’s, and a Guinness cake for Ryan’s Epiphany birthday:
It’s become a tradition for me to make baklava for Epiphany, too:
And one new recipe for a savory baked good…cheese thumbprints with pineapple jalapeño jelly. That recipe is definitely a keeper!
I’m always amazed by how many baking staples I go through at this time of year, and the kitchen is always busy, and smells kind of like a bakery for weeks on end. I will admit to looking forward to a break from various doughs and batters, though!
I know this is going to sound silly, but I have worked long and hard to find the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. Basic, I know, but none of the ones I made in the past were quite good enough. Last summer, however, I finally perfected a recipe that met my standards and pleased everyone in my family. A recipe like that is definitely worth keeping! I love how big they are, and the fact that you can customize them to suit your tastes. I’ve used many combinations of baking chips in subsequent recipes, and I like them all. Dark and white chocolate chips have been especially popular, as have milk chocolate chips and chunks. You can use whatever your favorites are, too!
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, melted
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 egg yolks
2 cups semisweet chocolate chunks
2 cups milk chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 325. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, eggs, and egg yolks until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets (cookies should be about 3 inches apart). Sprinkle with sea salt.
Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
On the twelfth day of Christmas, the Christmas baking is finally done!
I think this was a record year…I baked over 60 dozen cookies. About 15 dozen each of raspberry-almond thumbprints and chocolate peppermint cookies (the two most popular that I bake), Another 12 dozen or so each of gingerbread and sugar cookies, plus kolaches and hot chocolate cookies. I also made two trays of Christmas cracker candy, which are kind of cookies and kind of not.
Our big family baking day is always so much fun!
We’ve really upped our decorating game! Turkey made Mario and Luigi snowmen, and Bunny made the “leader of the hosen”…I really liked that she included a feather in his cap! And we also added actual ninjabreadmen cookie cutters, which provided even more opportunities for creative decorating…
There were other special baked goods, as well, including our St. Lucia Day lussekattes, baklava for Epiphany, two birthday cakes (one for Jesus and one for Ryan), a bûche de Noël, my first-ever lattice top pie, a trifle, and a coffee cake:
I even baked one savory item…smoked Gouda cheese straws:
The Markel Bakery is now temporarily closed…but I’m sure it won’t be too long before I get the itch to bake something again!
This was another successful season of baking, although, this year, we didn’t get it all done before Christmas. We ran out of time for the cut-out cookies, so we saved those for a “12 Days of Christmas” activity, which we just wrapped up today! Other than the cut-outs, we managed to give most of them away, thankfully…we made a lot of cookies!
Here’s the rundown on what we made:
3 trays of peppermint bark:
2 trays of Christmas cracker candy:
1 pan of baklava:
1 plate of chocolate dipped pretzels:
13 dozen raspberry almond thumbprints:
12 dozen chocolate peppermint cookies:
Two and a half dozen sugar cookies:
2 dozen gingerbread cookies:
And, one plate of mint truffles (which I will never, ever make again! It’s back to Oreo truffles next year!)
So, that’s it for this year. As always, I’m a little bit tired of baking!