Gifts and Cookies

Back in high school and university, I used to spend a lot of time customizing gifts for my friends and family.  I would carefully plan out the gifts by creating detailed shopping lists that listed gift ideas and wrapping for each individual.  Yes, I spent more time planning gifts than studying…my Managerial Accounting mark can attest to this!! heh.
Sadly, I no longer spend that much time on picking out the perfect gift. Nowadays, I have to bounce ideas off of other people, give cash, or resort to gift cards. This Eid I really struggled to find things for family members and ended up getting some gift cards. I did however, try to add a personal touch by adding a homemade cookie mix to the gifts.  This idea stemmed from Bakerella’s post on Mixing things up!
This is probably the simplest gift you can make. It’s not too expensive and you can customize it by using different coloured Smarties or M & M’s, or using different nuts.  Get a mason jar and slap on two printable labels- one for the name and the other for directions and voila! You have a great hostess or holiday gift.
*Note that the label in the picture has wrinkles in it…to avoid this, use smaller labels
Chocolate Oatmeal Cowboy Cookies

1 1/3 cup all purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and levelled
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup cooking oats
3/4 cup Smarties (you can use M & M’s if you are celebrating a holiday)
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3-1/2 cup chopped pecans

Before you start the layers, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl together.
The layers will be as follows:
1.The flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt mixture.  .
2.The oats.
3.The Smarties.
4.The chocolate chips.
5.The brown sugar.
6.The white sugar.
7.The chopped pecans

Pack each layer down tightly so that you can fit all of the ingredients in.  If a plastic seal is missing from the mouth of the jar, take a small piece of plastic wrap and cover it up, before closing the lid.
Using printable labels, you can print out two labels- one label for the cookie name, and the other for the instructions.  I put the name of the cookie at the front of the jar, and put the instructions on the back.  Here are the instructions I used on the label:
Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Stir dry ingredients in a large bowl and add:
1/2 cup butter, (almost melted), 1 slightly beaten egg & 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine thoroughly. Roll into 1 1/2 inch balls & bake on a lined cookie sheet for 10 minutes.

If you want to make the cookies for yourself, the recipe is as follows:
1 1/3 cup all purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and levelled
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup cooking oats
3/4 cup Smarties (you can use M & M’s if you are celebrating a holiday)
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3-1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix all of the dry ingredients in a large glass bowl.  Add in the wet ingredients and mix well.  Roll the dough into small balls, and place them, evenly spaced, on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes or until the edges are golden. Cool for 5 minutes on cookie sheet before transferring to cooling rack.

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Eid bits and bobs and amazing sugar cookies!

Eid Mubarak to those who were celebrating or are still celebrating (like moi) this week! Having Eid on a week day ensures two things: a day off from work and loads of parties on the weekends.

Our Eid week celebrations started on Monday night with a chaand raat party at my mom’s home.  A chaand raat party literally means a moon night party- it usually takes place on the 29th night of Ramadan as this is the night that groups of leaders from the Muslim community gather around and try to locate and/or find out if anyone has spotted the moon. If a moon is spotted, the Islamic month of Ramadan will be complete and the next day will be Eid. Our chaand raat party consisted of breaking our fast, eating delicious food, having wonderful conversation, keeping tabs on moon sightings, and of course mehndi/henna application.  A chaand raat party wouldn’t be a chaand raat party without some mehndi!

Our Eid celebrations on Wednesday started off with congregational Eid prayers at a local community spot.  Then we headed home to snack on some sweet treats.  The rest of the day was filled with gift-giving, spending time with family and visitors, visiting family and friends, eating, and the oh-so-important Eid nap!  Round two of Eid celebrations are starting up again and will continue well into the weekend.  Thank goodness it’s a long weekend…we’ll have Monday to recover from all of the food that will have been consumed!

I’m sure some of you will be heading out and visiting people this weekend and since you probably don’t want to go empty-handed, I suggest you try making these sugar cookies. They are soft, not too sweet and very forgiving.  You can use different cookie cutters to cut out the cookies, or roll the dough into a log and cut off cookie coins with a sharp knife.  Do what your heart (and tummy!) desires.

Sugar Cookies

1-½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
2 egg yolks, room temperature
4 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp almond extract
4 cups white whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder

In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar until well combined. Add in the 2 eggs and 2 egg yolks and mix until combined.  Mix in vanilla and almond extracts.  In another bowl, sift together flour, salt, and baking powder.  Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix until combined, making sure not to over-mix the dough.

To make a small quantity of cookies, halve the dough and shape them into discs. Wrap them up with plastic wrap and stick one disc in the fridge and the other in the freezer. Otherwise, put all the dough onto some plastic wrap and form it into a disc before placing in fridge for 2-3 hours.   One hour before baking, turn the oven heat onto 350 degrees.  Roll out the dough on a floured surface to 1/4-1-8 inch thickness.  Dip a cookie cutter into some flour and begin to cut out cookies. If the dough becomes warm as you work, wrap it up and stick it into the freezer for 15-20 minutes (continue this method if the dough continues to warm up). Place the cookies on parchment-lined, cold cookie sheets and bake for 6-8 minutes or until the cookies have golden edges. Between cookie batches, let cookie sheets cool completely before reusing.
Cool cookies completely on cooling racks before icing.

Icing

1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp milk (use less milk if you want a thicker icing)
1 drop fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp light corn syrup

In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients.  Using the tinges of a fork, drizzle the icing over cooled cookies.  Let icing set before layering cookies on a tray otherwise the cookies will stick together. (I learned that the hard way!)