About 18 years ago my grandmother gave me a copy of 1001 Cookie Recipes and it's been the blame for many cookie cravings and an inspiration for many cookie baking sessions. My grandmother isn't with us anymore but her cook book collection and recipes were handed down so family members can continue cooking, baking and making memories for years to come. So it probably comes as no surprise that one of my favorite things to make for Christmas is a variety of cookies. They're fun to decorate, and great for dunking or just munching. My husband and our two boys enjoy cookies and just to bring the point home, we even named our cat Cookie. True story! I would like to share a really easy, fast and tasty cookie recipe that I adapted from the "suggested recipes" side panel of a boxed cake mix. Since the recipe starts with a cake mix, I decided to just call them...
CAKE MIX COOKIES
350 degree Fahrenheit with the rack positioned in middle of the oven
Spray a large baking sheet with cooking oil or line with wax paper
1 boxed cake mix (dry state) 510 g. or 18 ounces
HINT: the yellow cake mix is very versatile so I tend to keep one on hand for cookie emergencies. Just saying!
1/2 cup vegeatable oil
HINT: don't use olive oil or cookies will be :-P
2 large eggs
1/4 cup chopped nuts
1/4 cup medium shredded coconut
1/2 cup baking chips: chocolate, butterscotch, peanut butter, etc.
1/2 cup chopped dried fruit: cranberries, currants, raisins, etc.
HINT: do not add every fixing listed above or cookies will be overloaded and come out flat. I suggest limiting it to two choices. If you choose to ignore this advice then don't say I didn't warn you!
In a large mixing bowl use a fork to combine the cake mix, eggs and cooking oil. There's no need to break out the mixer for this one. I'm all for less fuss and bother. I did say this was easy, right? Fold in the baking chips, dried fruit, nuts and/or coconut. Try not to eat the fixings. Save them for the batter. Oh nevermind, that last part was for my kids. If the dough seems a bit too thick like playdough, then add water one teaspoon at a time to get a drop cookie consistency.
HINT: For a festive look try topping the cookie dough drops with red and green smarties or maraschino cherries before baking. See my yummy photo above for a visual.
Drop the cookie dough in dollops on the prepared baking sheet. The cookies don't like to be crowded, they need their personal space to spread out so maybe limit it to 9 per sheet. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes or until they appear to be lightly brown around the edges. Do not overbake the cookies. Stay focussed and keep an eye on them because nobody wants to eat a puck. When the cookies are done, just take them out of the oven and leave them alone on the counter for 5 minutes. You can go make yourself some coffee or check your Twitter feed. Now you can use a metal spatula to transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let them cool before eating or storing in airtight container. Enjoy!
Every Christmas I tend to give books as gifts, go figure right? Well, this year is no exception! I have some suggestions for those of you who are still braving the crowds in search of something for that hard to buy for someone and the readers on your gift list.
For fans of fiction there's THE LITTLE SHADOWS by Marina Endicott and THE VIRGIN CURE by Ami McKay. These novels will whisk the reader to a fascinating place and time and leave an impression that will stay long after the last page has been turned. These are two great reads by two great authors!
For music lovers I can recommend Michael Bublé's ONSTAGE OFFSTAGE or Jann Arden's FALLING BACKWARDS. Both memoirs are written by Canadian artists who have graced us with their wonderful voices and now share their inspiring stories with their fans. While you're in gift-giving mode you might want to check out the new CD's released by both Jann and Michael.
The mystery buff will enjoy I AM HALF-SICK OF SHADOWS by Alan Bradley and TWELVE DRUMMERS DRUMMING by C.C. Benison. These novels have a holiday theme that are a perfect fit for some me-time along with hot cocoa by a cozy fireside. If you prefer something a bit stronger like, oh maybe Irish coffee then go ahead, no judgement!
Speaking of libations, aficionados of food and drink will dig in and devour the luscious and delicious books UNQUENCHABLE by Natalie MacLean and Nadia G's BITCHIN' KITCHEN: COOKIN' FOR TROUBLE. In my experience you can't go wrong giving a cook book as a gift and Nadia delivers the goods with her signature cheeky style. When it comes to the sommelier wannabe, really, shouldn't we all know our way around fine wines or at least be able to fake our way through a wine tasting? Oh, did I say that last part out loud? Sorry, I was just referring to myself. Moving on!
The crafty types will definitely get their DIY fix with MARTHA STEWART'S HANDMADE HOLIDAY CRAFTS: 225 INSPIRED PROJECTS FOR YEAR-ROUND CELEBRATIONS by Editors of Martha Stewart Living and MARTHA'S ENTERTAINING: A YEAR OF CELEBRATION by Martha Stewart. Do I really need to say any more about these books or Martha, the guru of home entertaining? I would think that 225 projects should keep any person busy for way more than 1-year and well, who doesn't need an ultimate guide to entertaining? I know I could use that one to inspire my get-togethers. Hey, are you listening Santa Baby?
Some teens can be reluctant readers, so for them I can suggest INHERITANCE by Christopher Paolini as a great gift. My teen took time out of his busy gaming schedule to read the entire ERAGON series so that should say something. For the avid reader you could go all out and give the complete series boxed set: ERAGON, ELDEST, BRISINGR and INHERITANCE.
So, why not visit your local bookstore or check out what there is to offer online and pick up a book or two for someone and maybe even you? If you want to check out many more awesome book ideas from BookLounge.ca's GIFTS FOR READERS and don't forget to enter our giveaway for the pile of books in the photo above!
BOOKALICIOUS BOOK GRAB GIVEAWAY
Random House Canada has a gift pack to give to 1 lucky Bookalicious reader. The gift pack will include: The Little Shadows, Onstage Offstage, Unquenchable, I Am Half-sick Of Shadows, Martha Stewart's Handmade Holiday Crafts and Inheritance. To enter the book draw leave a comment sharing a book you would love to give or receive.
Yummy Rules and Regulations
You must be a Yummy Mummy Club member to win. Click to sign up! It's free and filled with perks. One comment per member. Entries accepted until December 21, 2011. Contest open to Canadian residents. Winners will be picked using www.random.org. Please mark the email email@example.com as a "safe sender" when you enter a Bookalicious giveaway and respond within 1 week to claim your prize!
Main photo credit: Lindsey Reeder, Assistant Online Marketing Random House Canada