31 October 2014

Halloween Spritz Cookies

My mother used to bake spritz cookies for Christmas every year and, as a child, they were the cookie I loved to hate. They were pretty, yes, but they were horrible little beasts to assemble. My mother had a Mirro cookie press -- the kind you have to turn the handle at the top of the barrel while holding the bottom level with the baking sheet until enough dough has come out to see the shape of the cookie and then you have to carefully lift the cookie press straight up so as not to ruin the design. It never really worked out well when I had the running of it and, when I started baking on my own, I vowed I'd never bake spritz cookies because they were just to darn fiddly.

Yet ... here I am with an Oxo Good Grips Cookie Press. A cookie press I was given for Christmas last year. After I specifically asked for it. Because I am mad, I tell you, mad.

I used the spider, web, and pumpkin cookie disks to shape my Halloween spritz. I thought the web and pumpkin would be the easiest shapes to press, but the webs turned out to be annoying little beasties. Of course, I started with the webs so when they wouldn't come out properly I thought it was because the baking sheets weren't chilled enough! And then I thought maybe the dough needed to be chilled. And then, finally, I decided to try the spider disk ... and the spiders came out perfect from the first!

Stupid webs.

The pumpkins also shaped and stuck to the baking sheets just fine. I don't know what it was about the webs, but they really didn't want to release from the press.

I used the recipe for butter cookies that came with my Oxo Good Grips Cookie Press, figuring the recipe had been formulated especially for the press and was thereby a good starting point ... so I am still a bit grumpy and confused about why the webs were so difficult.

Since I was making Halloween spritz I divided the dough into two bowls and colored it with Americolor Soft Gel Paste Food Colors. I was afraid to use too much black, because my mouth kept telling me the cookies would taste "black" even though my brain knew that was nonsense.

The dough looks rather gray in the photo, but the cookies baked up pretty dark.

The orange was just ORANGE from the get go and didn't bake up any less vibrant.

Overall, I'd say I enjoyed my first attempt at spritz cookies and am looking forward to making more as we head into Cookie Season. The Oxo cookie press does take a little getting used to as using it isn't quite as straightforward as the instructions suggest (I would say I pressed a good dozen duds before I got the hang of it), but know that I've figured out what I'm doing ... it beats the socks of my mother's old screw-style cookie press!

29 October 2014

Pick A Pumpkin

Driving around, looking for pumpkins, and hit the jackpot at Krell's Farm in Farmington!

There's also quite an assortment of fresh vegetables for sale inside, including some beautiful cabbages and brussels sprouts, so I will have to go back soon.

27 October 2014

Menu Plan Monday: 27 October

I was sick all last week with The Terrible Cold of Autumn 2014 and didn't really get any grocery shopping done before setting down to write this week's menu plan ... but that turned out okay, because our pantry and freezer are pretty well stocked!

Here's what is on the menu this week:

Slow cooker "roasted" chicken drumsticks (butter, poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper) with mashed purple potatoes and tinned green beans. Purple potatoes taste just like white potatoes, but are pretty.

Trader Joe's frozen stir-fry vegetable medley cooked with TJ's organic grass-fed ground beef, garlic, ginger, coconut aminos, and sesame oil. I know it doesn't look like much, but it is delicious.

Sushi Wednesday!

"Tuna or Salmon Muffins" with steam-in-bag frozen asparagus and garlic aïoli.

Friday (Halloween!)
Chicken pot pie from Roger's Orchards with the last of the garden tomatoes (white wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper). And candy, of course.

Garlicky caesar salad topped with baked salmon.

Taste of Home's "Stuffed Pepper Soup" (added garlic, onion, and herbs) with garlic toast.