Cookie-A-Day: Day 8 – Peanut Butter Cookies

An old favorite in our house – Peanut Butter Cookies.  I knew that this had to be one of the cookies that I included in my series.  These cookies are super easy to mix up and toss in the oven.  They can even be mixed the night before and then baked first thing in the morning. 

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Gluten-free Peanut Butter Cookies

*Original recipe from Betty Crocker Cook Book – modified to be gluten-free by me

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup peanut butter (I used Skippy Natural)

1/4 cup shortening

1/4 cup butter, softened (1/2 a stick)

1 large egg

1 1/4 cups GF flour mix (I used Carol’s sorghum mix)

3/4 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. xanthan gum

1/4 tsp. salt

Granulated sugar (for topping)

 

Method

1.  Mix sugars, peanut butter, shortening, butter & egg together in a large mixing bowl.  Stir in dry ingredients and mix until well incorporated.  Chill for at least 2 hours. 

2.  Heat oven to 375.

3.  Shape dough into small balls and roll in granulated sugar.  Flatten cookies with a fork (you may want to spray with Pam) in a criss-cross pattern.

4.  Bake for 9-10 minutes or until light brown – do not over-bake.  They took just 9 minutes in my oven.  Cool 5 minutes & remove to wire rack for the remainder of the cooling time. 

 

Tips

  • This recipe is another that works best using a GF flour mix without added baking soda or baking powder.  That way you can control the amounts.  I usually reserve Pamela’s Baking Mix for muffins, cakes, scones and not cookies.  The one cookie I made with Pamela’s last week came out cake-like. 
  • Use parchment paper on your cookie sheets to help your cookies from sticking & to keep them from spreading too much.
  • I thought about subbing the shortening out to make these a little healthier.  The cook book suggests using 1/4 pkg. (8 oz pkg) light cream cheese in place of the shortening.  I didn’t have any, but would love to try that next time. 

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My helper:

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Using his “tool”:

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Ready to go into the oven:

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The finished product:

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Once again, a hit.  The kids scarfed down the cookies that I would allow them to have & begged for more.  I asked what the best cookies were so far – Jon said the Almond Cranberry Bites from yesterday; Hannah said the Peanut Butter Cookies & the Spritz Cookies are her favorite. 

 

 

Elf on the Shelf – Is he watching you?

I have heard about “The Elf on the Shelf” tradition for the past few years, however this is the first year we have had an elf.  Our elf showed up on December 8, 2009.  Hannah was thrilled to see the elf, but was worried that he would eat all of the cookies that I have been baking.  She had heard some stories about these elves from her friends at school and from Aunt Kelly & cousin Noah (who has an elf named “Quirky”).  Hannah has named our elf “Buddy” (wonder where she got that from?), but today I was told that he also goes by an alias – “Peppermint”.  When Hannah went to bed last night, Buddy was happily hanging out in the kitchen getting his shoe fixed by Aaron.  When we woke up this AM, Buddy was hanging out somewhere new:

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He stationed himself where he could keep an eye on Hannah & Jon and then report back to Santa. 

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If you haven’t heard the story behind “The Elf on the Shelf” here is some info for you to read:

From My Family to Yours,

This charming tradition began for our family when my children were very small. Like most children through the ages, they wanted to know how Santa really knew who was naughty or who was nice. Their answer, as in my own childhood, came in the form of a small pixie-elf.

The first time the elf arrived at our home, my children officially adopted him by giving him a name. Each year he would arrive around the holidays, usually at Thanksgiving. His sole responsibility was to watch the children’s behavior and report it to Santa each night. The next morning after the children awoke, they discovered the elf had returned from the North Pole and was now resting in a new and different place. My children would race each other out of bed to try and be the first to spy him in his new position.

Over the years the tradition was perfected and rules were introduced. For example, to better preserve his mystique the children were not allowed to touch him but talking to him was a different matter all together. My children shared many secrets with the elf, and while he was under strict orders not to talk to them, the elf was under no such orders where grown-ups were concerned.

Unwittingly, the tradition provided an added benefit: it helped the children to better control themselves. All it took was a gentle reminder that the “elf is watching,” for errant behavior to be modified.

I never dreamed this simple tradition would lead to so many treasured Christmas memories for our entire family. It is my earnest desire that The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition will bring as much joy to your family as it has to mine.

Enjoy this tradition, and MAKE IT YOUR OWN!

With my best wishes for you and those you love,

 

Carol

This letter was written by the author of “The Elf on the Shelf”. 

We can’t wait to see where Buddy (aka Peppermint) shows up tomorrow!

 

 

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Cookie-A-Day: Day 7- Almond Cranberry Bites

I happened upon this recipe in an Eatingwell.com email.  The original recipe calls for dried cherries, but I didn’t have any so I subbed dried cranberries instead.  This recipe screamed “Christmas cookie” to me, so I knew that I had to include it in my “Cookie-A-Day” series.  This recipe is full of healthy ingredients – almonds, canola oil, dried fruit.  So, you can feel good about treating yourself to one of these cookies and these cookies ROCK!  I was so pleasantly surprised when I tasted these.  Jon was adamant about not trying them because he doesn’t like dried fruit.  Well, they smelled so good he asked to try one.  He ended up eating three & saying he loved them!  They are really good warm.  I couldn’t convert Hannah, but that is okay, this only made 20 cookies, so more for us!  ;)

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Almond Cranberry Bites

  • 1/3 cup whole almonds (I used Trader Joe’s raw almonds
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup coarsely chopped dried cherries
  • 2/3 cup gluten-free flour mix (I used Carol’s sorghum mix)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 tablespoons chocolate chips or finely chopped dark and/or white chocolate, for decoration (optional- I opted not to add this)

Method

1.  Heat oven to 350.

2.  Grind raw almonds & sugar in a food processor until you have the desired texture; the finer the texture, the more intense the almond flavor & less crunch from the almond.  Be careful not to turn the almonds into paste.  Transfer mix to large bowl & mix in flour & cranberries.

3.  Add egg white, oil, vanilla & almond extracts.  Mix until well incorporated.

4.  Shape dough into small balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the bottom is slightly brown; the tops will not brown.

5.  Transfer to a wire rack & cool completely.

6.  Optional- melt chocolate & drizzle over cookies with a fork.  Let stand until chocolate sets.

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Tips

1.  This is another mix where a GF flour mix without baking soda, baking powder & xanthan gum are not needed.  I am not sure how the cookies would turn out if you were to use a mix with those added in.

2.  The chocolate melted on top is not necessary, in my opinion and you all know how much I love my chocolate.

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These are now going to become a holiday staple in our house.  You can freeze these for up to 3 months.  They have about 75 calories per cookie (recipe made 20 cookies).

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In case you missed this: College Inn has recalled some chicken broth for undeclared wheat.  You can read more about it here.

Cookie-A-Day – Day 6: Gingersnaps

I have been making Gingersnaps since I was a teenager.  I loved to bake since I was old enough to understand how to work the oven & measure ingredients.  I love to experiment with new cookies and this is one that once I made it, it became an instant family favorite.  I love the crisp outside & chewy inside.  I was worried that the conversion of this recipe to gluten-free would alter the textures that I loved so dearly in this cookie.  Upon my first bite, I slowly bit into the cookie, hoping & praying that I wouldn’t be disappointed.  I wasn’t – the crisp was still there.  Now for the chewy.  I continued to bite into the cookie & the chewy ginger center was there too!  There was little to no difference between the gluten-free & gluten-filled version of this cookie.  Success!!

You can find the Gingersnap recipe here.  I did feature this recipe last year on my blog, too.

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Don’t forget to watch or DVR Dr. Oz on Thursday, December 10th.  Dr. Oz will be doing a show on Celiac Disease.  I am so excited that Celiac Disease awareness is just exploding!

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Make sure to check this article out on a recall for undeclared wheat in chicken broth.

Weekly Menu Plan – December 6, 2009

Parenting a teenager is the toughest thing I think I have ever done.  We have had a rough week, but I have faith that consistency, patience & love will get us through. Weeks like that make you really appreciate the plain, “boring” and normal weeks as they go by, no matter how busy you are. 

Onto brighter days.  5 full days of cookie love coming your way this week – starting today with Spritz Cookies.  On the menu this week:

Sunday – Lobster tail, baked sweet potato, sauteed green beans & salad

Monday – Teriyaki Salmon, coconut brown rice, broccoli & salad.

Tuesday – Chicken Parmesan, brown rice spaghetti & salad

Wednesday – out to dinner after skating

Thursday – Filet mignon, risotto, sugar snap peas & salad

Friday – we have a party to attend

Saturday – Homemade pizza night & salad

 

Baked Goods

Bread

lots of cookies

 

Check out Orgjunkie & Lilac Kitchen for lots more menu ideas. 

 

 

 

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Cookie-A-Day: Day 5- Spritz Cookies

I have such fond memories of making Spritz cookies as a child.  My mom used to make it so much fun for my sister, Kelly, and I.  She would press out all the cookies with the ancient metal cookie press and we would then get to decorate them.  We used cut up maraschino cherries for the Scottie dog’s collar, silver ball candies for the balls on the Christmas trees, sprinkles for the wreaths.  Then we made sure to sample them as they came out of the oven.  Oh, the memories.  I wanted to start to pass along some of these traditions to my kids, so I made sure they were both present for the Spritz cookie baking & decorating. 

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This recipe is straight from the old Betty Crocker Cookbook, modified to be gluten-free.

1 cup butter, softened (no margarine here…butter is a must!)

1/2 cup sugar

2 1/4 cups GF flour mix (I used Carol’s Sorghum Mix)

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp xanthan gum

1 egg

1 tsp almond extract (another must have….this makes these cookies!)

 

1.  Cream butter & sugar.

2.  Blend in remaining ingredients.

3.  Chill for 30 minutes or so. 

4.  Heat oven to 400.

5.  Fill cookie press with 1/4 of the dough at a time. 

6.  Form desired shapes on ungreased baking sheet

7.  Bake 6 to 9 minutes or until set, but not brown

8.  Cool slightly & then remove to cooling racks.

 

My notes:

  • Don’t use Pamela’s Baking Mix or any other mix with baking soda or baking powder for this recipe
  • My cookie press is very cantankerous.  I don’t know what the issue is, but the dough likes to stick to the plastic disks . This happened pre-GF, too, so it isn’t the GF dough.  Maybe try parchment paper on the cookie sheet to convince the dough to want to stick to the cookie sheet. 
  • My oven took exactly 6 minutes.  If I had left them in for 9, they would have been brown.  I use an oven thermometer to monitor the temp in my oven at all times.  Best $10 I ever spent. 

 

Towards the end, we gave up on the cookie press & started rolling them by hand:

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Jon threatening me to eat the dough – I had already freaked out on him once b/c of the raw eggs.  Funny guy. ;)

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Like the messy hands? 

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My own personal decorator.  :)

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These cookies rocked!  They are my favorite so far! 

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Even my non-cookie-eating husband was raving about these! 

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Okay, one more picture, only because I am starving now!  LOL!

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Do you have any cookie traditions

 

 

New Gluten-free Products

Over the past week I have discovered some new gluten-free products.  I am always excited to try something new & love to share my finds with you guys. 

Kinnikinnick has a new product on the market – Gluten-free Panko Style Bread Crumbs!  How exciting!  I have seen so many recipes that use Panko style bread crumbs & now they will be so much easier to follow now.  :)  Another new product that I saw on their site – Jumbo Muffins!  Kinnikinnick always has a $10 flat rate shipping on their site, so stock up!  I may be ordering these bread crumbs & some of the Kinni-TOOS and Multi-Wonder Bread that I love so much.  They also have Fruit Cake available for the holiday season.  :)

Amy’s Kitchen has 2 new gluten-free products available – Gluten-free Non-Dairy Chocolate Cake & Gluten-free Non-Dairy Rice Mac & Cheeze.  Amy’s is a great company & has a number of options available for those of us who have to eat gluten-free. 

And last, but certainly not least, GFL Foods, Inc has gluten-free pitas!  Yes, pitas!  I will have a review up of them later today or tomorrow.  We are having them for dinner tonight with BBQ Pulled Pork. 

Hope you are all having a great weekend!  It is very, very chilly here.  No snow, yet, but I think that winter is finally here. 

 

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