First day of baking down! A few things I learned...

I have been baking a variety of cookies, breads, cakes, pies and just about anything you can think of since I was 16. Ok, really, I was baking before that with mom but I'm talking about the age when I was married and began to bake on my own. During the holidays, I LOVE to bake even more and share these goodies with friends, family & neighbors. I even put an assortment in the mailbox for the postal carrier with a warning if any contain nuts.

I've always been exceptional when it comes to creating sweet treats and take a great deal of pride in what I do. I'm meticulous about keeping a spotless kitchen and wash every single utensil between batches so nothing gets "contaminated' with the previous batch flavor. I use parchment paper with every cookie sheet, cake pan or loaf pan. The parchment paper nearly guarantees that the bottom of whatever I'm baking has a nice, clean crust without being too hard. I change the parchment paper when I change a batch of goodies as well.

I had a problem with my cookies being too thin. I don't like them like that. I discovered that once the cookie dough is all put together, if you put it in the fridge for 2-3 hours or even overnight, then drop them on the cookie sheets & put them in the oven, they don't spread out as quick. At least mine didn't. They came out perfect! I added 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder to every cookie recipe, if it doesn't already call for it. I also make sure the eggs are taken out of the fridge about an hour before adding them to the recipe.

Most cookie recipes had a temperature of 375 degrees. I found the edges would be near burnt but the middle was still too "soft". I lowered the temperature to 350 degrees and gave them a few extra minutes, watching them carefully. They baked  and browned evenly. I am very excited to try the recipes I have in the fridge now. They'll sit overnight because frankly, I'm too tired and my legs and feet are hurting too much to stay on them any longer.

Seeing that it's going to officially be Christmas Eve in about half an hour, I have some snack recipes I'll be making too. I will be making buffalo chicken dip (the chicken was cooked earlier today so I will only need to shred it, put everything together and heat it in the oven for 20 minutes or so), potato salad, an apple and a pumpkin pie and frying the meatballs to go with our Christmas dinner.

I use a 50/50 mix of ground beef and ground turkey in my meatballs. I use garlic powder and use my microplaner to get super duper fine onion in the mix. Then a few other ingredients and presto ~ I've got Grandmom's meatballs! She would be so proud of me!! (The trick to these I discovered it to have a smooth texture, no chunks of anything!) The "gravy" (sauce) is also put together from scratch. I did cheat and got the premade stuffed manicotti. I have enough I'm making....stop looking at my like that! I can take a shortcut if it will help me get it all done on time.

I hope these simple tips help you with your baking of awesomeness!! If there's any other tips you might have, please feel free to share them! I will share the recipes at a later time. It's late, I'm tired and I need to be up early to get everything done tomorrow. Sweet dreams and Merry Christmas Eve!!

~Donna do I add photo's of my deliciousness to my blog? I'm new at this and could use a little help here, please?


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