Thursday, December 19, 2013

Crock-Pot Christmas Potpourri

I love the smells of Christmas and my favorite way is simmering this easy to make potpourri in a small crock-pot.
You can simmer this on your stovetop if you like, but I'm always afraid I'll forget to turn it off so I started simmering it in a crock-pot. Works great and smells amazing.
I don't necessarily go by a recipe, I just add what I have on hand. Most of these ingredients are optional.
2-3 cups of water or fill your crock-pot about 3/4 full. I don't measure.
slices of an orange and the peeling
1/2 cup fresh cranberries
4 cinnamon sticks
1 Tbsp cloves
1 tsp vanilla
1 tea bag. I use this only if I have something fruity like orange or a berry tea that I'm trying to use up.  Constant Comment would be good too.

Put everything in your crock-pot and let it simmer all day.
Add water as needed.

Linking to: Chicken Chick

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

DIY Winter Scene Jars

These winter scene jars are super simple to make and cost almost nothing. They are so easy you almost don't need a tutorial but I'll tell you anyway.
I used these hurricane vases that I had on hand, but you can use any glass jar, especially mason jars.
First we are going to create some frost. You can use artificial snow spray if you like but this is how I do mine. Rinse the inside of your jar and sprinkle regular table salt on the inside of the jar while it's still wet. Let it dry and you have frosted jars.
Oh.....please try not to leave a fingerprint on the inside of the jar like I did below!
 If that happens just wet the spot a little and sprinkle more salt.
Next pour in your snow. You can use fake snow, Epsom salt or even white sugar. Whatever you have on hand. I like to use Epsom Salt because my trees sit more firmly in it. You could even add some glitter to your snow for extra sparkle.
Now I rummaged through my Christmas decorations to see what I could put it my jars. It can be as simple as a few bottlebrush trees.
In this one I cut a piece of grapevine garland to fit in the jar, added some moss and a bird.
And in the third one a snowman ornament, pinecones and some fake berries. There are so many possibilities.
Once I started it was hard to stop. I have a few more ideas rolling around in my head for another day.
These were so easy I hope it inspires you to give them a try.
 Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Soft Christmas Cut-Out Cookies

When it comes to Christmas cut-out cookies, this has been my go-to recipe for years.
My cookies might not be the most beautifully decorated Christmas cut-outs, but they are soft and flavorful. To me it's more about flavor and a soft, melt in your mouth cookie than how elaborately it is decorated.
 After mixing your dough according to the recipe, cover and chill overnight or for several hours. I take a knife and score my dough into four equal parts while it's still in the bowl. At this time if you don't want to bake all your cookies at once you can freeze part of your dough if you like.
The dough will still be sticky so flour your surface and rolling pin generously.
Roll out one quarter of the dough at once. You want to keep it at least 1/4 inch thick.
Usually I use all different shapes of cut-outs but today because it was snowing, I decided to do snowflakes. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-9 minutes or lightly browned.
If you don't have buttermilk on hand you can substitute 1 Tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar plus milk to make 1 cup. Let stand for 5-10 minutes.
If you like your cookies soft like I do, make sure you don't roll them out too thin and don't overbake them. If you like them crispier, roll the dough out thinner and bake a little longer.
 Now I know Royal Icing is what most people use to decorate their cookies, and is necessary if you are doing a lot of detail, but trust me on this......Butter Cream Icing is the best! 
By the time I get my cookies mixed, chilled, and baked, I just don't have a lot of time left for decorating so I keep it real simple and just sprinkle them with sanding sugar.

Soft Christmas Cut-Out Cookies

2 cups sugar
2 sticks butter, room temperature
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
6 cups flour
1 cup buttermilk
2 Tbsp. vanilla

Cream butter, add sugar and beat well. Add eggs. Add dry ingredients alternating with buttermilk. Add vanilla. Chill several hours or overnight. Roll out on well floured surface about 1/4 inch thick and cut. Bake at 350 for 8-9 minutes. Don't overbake. Let cool on cookie sheet for a minute or two before removing.

Butter Cream Icing:
1 stick butter, very soft but don't melt.
4 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla
4 Tbsp very hot water
Mix until smooth adding more water or powdered sugar until the desired consistency.