Thursday, October 18, 2012

Holiday Food- Let's Get Down To Baking (Day 9)

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Can I just tell you that I love baking??? Seriously, nothing done in the kitchen thrills my soul so much as baking. It doesn't matter what- muffins, bagels, cookies, biscotti- I just love to bake. I'm hoping that some of you share my enthusiasm! Maybe I love it the best because I like eating it so much ;). Even if you don't enjoy the work itself, I am sure that 99% of you at least love to eat it!

Whether you love to or would rather not, oftentimes the Holidays call for a little extra baking. By planning it out now, I am going to make things nice and easy for you. Either you will have more time to relax and relish the joys of baking, or you can hurry it up and be in and out of the kitchen lickety-split. Totally up to you.

First, ask how many people and events you will be baking for this year. Is there an annual cookie exchange that you plan on attending? Do you plan on passing plates of goodies to neighbors and friends? Write down everyone and thing you will be preparing goods for. In my case, I plan to give cookies to a few close family friends, and people at church. I'd also like to have an assortment of delicacies on hand for visitors who pop in. And finally, each year my church plates up assorted cookies for the men in the halfway house next door. I plan on participating, so that will require 7 dozen or so from me.

Second, decide what kinds of cookies/candies you will be making. Depending on how large your list of people and events is, you could need anywhere from 4-8 types of treats. I personally like to select a few tried and true favorites, well also giving several new and exciting recipes I see (online or in magazines) a whirl. My classics include my grandmother's sugar cookie recipe, peanut butter blossoms, puppy chow (some people call this muddy buddies, chex cereal with peanut butter, chocolate, and powdered sugar), and peppermint spritz (this is the time of year I love to pull out my Pampered Chef cookie press!). I still have to poke around for inspiration on new kinds, but that is the fun part :).

Can you make ahead and freeze any of them? This is where you're going to save yourself some stress. I plan on making my Grandma's cut outs a month in advance, and freezing them without icing. Then I will pull them out as needed and enjoy the relaxing fun of decorating them, maybe with a friend or two. I can also make ahead and freeze my peppermint spritz and peanut butter blossoms.

When will you need your baked goods? Mark each goody-required event clearly on your calendar. Keep track of the dates and what exactly you plan on bringing (what kinds and how much).

When will you make them? Plan a date and set it in ink on your calendar for baking ahead, and another for baking closer to the events. Keep them set in stone, and don't schedule anything else on these days. By planning a specific day and leaving it totally free, you will give yourself the time and margin to accomplish what you need to, sans stress.

Today's Assignment: Make your list of who and what you are baking for, what baked goods you will be making, and how much of each kind you will need. Pick a couple of dates out on your calendar and set them aside as baking days!

What are your favorite things to bake for the holidays? Please share recipes and ideas in the comments! Let the mouth-watering begin ;). 

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 Don't Miss the Other Posts in this Series!

Introduction
Gifting- Your Plan of Attack
Gifting-Think Outside the Box
Gifting- To Make or Purchase?
Christmas Cards- Your Plan of Attack
Christmas Cards- Making Your List and Checking it Twice
Christmas Cards- I've Got Your Number
Holiday Food- The Menu
Holiday Food- A Timetable

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