Christmas

12 Days of Homemade Christmas 2016

December is here once again and that means it is time to bring out the cookies and holiday inspired sweet treats! Everyone has their own favorite and my family is no different. Like, for my husband, it just isn’t Christmas without Buckeyes and we always have some classic sugar cookies for my kids to decorate for Santa. Over the past few years, I have shared many of our tried and true favorites, so many that I wasn’t sure what to put on the list for this year. It is getting harder and harder so I switched gears a little bit and have been searching for and testing out some new recipes for this years 12 days of Homemade Christmas.

Homemade Christmas 2016 |My Hot Southern Mess

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Giving Back and Easy DIY Gift Bags

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #WrapGiveRepeat #CollectiveBias 

How do you give back during the holiday season? Do you volunteer? Do you do small random acts of kindness? What do you do? While I volunteer year round I do extra during the holidays to help make sure everyone has a great holiday. Each fall I figure out and develop a plan that centers around our military members and veterans and what I can do for them.  It usually revolves on small homemade or store bought goodies of all types that let them know they are being thought about.  I learned that small stockings can be hard to find and when you do, they can get expensive but making my own DIY Gift Bags were a snap! Sure I could buy them but when you are needing a bunch it is often cost effective to make your own. Plus, I could have the sizes I need with all sorts of different patterns. They are a great way to wrap, give, and repeat during the holiday season.

Giving Back and Easy DIY Gift Bags | My Hot Southern Mess

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Cracked Sugar Cookies

For my last day of my 12 days of Homemade Christmas I made Cracked Sugar Cookies and had some fun with them. My family loves the Grinch. My husband has, Your a mean one Mr Grinch, as his ring tone. He will break out and start singing it too at any given moment. Then there is my current mood, quite grinch-y. I have yet to get in the Christmas spirit. Some years it is easier than others and it seems the older I get, the more trouble I have.I don’t know if it is the over commercialization of the holidays and the fact we have Christmas stuff in the stores starting in August and there is the constant rush from holiday to holiday. Maybe it is because I have been sick and trying to train for my marathon and have been very busy with my volunteer responsibilities. Then again it could just be the normal stress of the season and being an adult and knowing someone has to pay for this. For whatever the reason I turned to my baking and had a little fun. I took my normal cracked sugar cookies and turned them into Grinch Cracked Sugar Cookies.

Cracked Sugar Cookies | Country Girl GourmetAll I did was add some Neon Green food coloring (Americolor) and place heart shaped candies in the middle of each cookie. The hearts didn’t quite make it, they melted a bit but not so much that my oldest couldn’t immediately figure out what type of cookies I had made. I’ll take that as a success.

Cracked Sugar Cookies | Country Girl Gourmet

As for my mood it is still grinch-y I still have a little time before Christmas for the spirit to hit me. Hopefully it will soon!

Check out my 12 Days of Homemade Christmas for other great ideas!

Cracked Sugar Cookies
 
Author:
 
Ingredients
  • 1¼ cups white sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2½ cups gluten free all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Lightly grease 2 cookie sheets.
  2. Cream together sugar and butter. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla.
  3. Add flour, baking soda, xanthan gum, and cream of tartar. Stir.
  4. Form dough into walnut size balls and place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Don't flatten. Bake 10 to 11 minutes, until tops are cracked and just turning color.

From Allrecipes.com

Gluten Free Shortbread Cookies

During the holidays there is always something going on where you need a special sweet treat and having a super easy shortbread recipe around can help in a pinch. Shortbread needs minimal ingredients. Just flour, sugar, butter and a bit of vanilla. All items I have on hand all the time. This year I decided I needed some shortbread cookies in my life so I converted a recipe and made a gluten free version.  The recipe only needed one new ingredient, xanthan gum and I swapped the all purpose flour for gluten free all purpose flour. These are simple alterations that will make the gluten free person in your life happy.

Gluten Free Shortbread Cookies | Country Girl Gourmet

When making shortbread I like to make logs of shortbread cookie dough  that I then wrap in wax paper and store in a ziplock bag. This allows me to be able to slice and bake cookies whenever I need them. Then I like to drizzle my shortbread with melted chocolate and sprinkle with a few nonpareils or other seasonal sprinkles. It makes for a simple yet beautiful cookie that everyone loves.

Gluten Free Shortbread Cookies |Country Girl Gourmet

Check out my 12 Days of Homemade Christmas for other great ideas!

Gluten Free Shortbread Cookies
 
Author:
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 cups gluten free all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
  2. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Stir in vanilla; add flour and mix well.
  3. Put through cookie press and form cookies onto baking sheets. Bake for 10 - 12 minutes.
  4. Alternative Method:
  5. Roll the dough into four logs, wrapped the logs in waxed paper, placed in the fridge to harden, and then sliced in about ½" slices when ready to bake.

Recipe adapted from Allrecipes.com

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies with Flax

On my 5th day of Homemade Christmas I have one of my second son’s favorite cookies, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies with Flax.
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies with Flax | Country Girl Gourmet


I have been making Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies for years. I love oatmeal chip cookies. They are so much better than those ones with raisins. These cookies are the only ones I make that Mr Great requests on a regular basis and this year he told me that I need to make them for Christmas and Santa.

These cookies are his special cookies. When we lived in El Paso he participated in his school district’s special olympics every year. One of things was parents and the school would supply food and snacks for the kids. I wanted to bring something that was a bit healthier. So I made cookies! I know cookies don’t scream healthy but these are filled with wholesome oatmeal and flax. So they are a bit better than your traditional chocolate chip.
Well, my son ate probably too many cookies that day in addition to pizza and who knows what else but he still had to run. His run was one of the last ones of the day. I was fully expecting him to puke, start walking or worse have a meltdown. None of that happened though, he won his race! He was so happy and I was very proud of him. If you asked him about the race he would tell you it was all because of the cookies, his special oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

Mr Great went on the following years to win again and again at the special olympics. He always had his special cookies too. The recipe has been tweaked a bit since those days to turn it into a gluten free oatmeal cookie but it is still delicious and we love it! Hopefully Santa will like them too! I have a sneaking suspicion that he will.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies with Flax | Country Girl Gourmet

Check out my 12 Days of Homemade Christmas for other great ideas!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies with Flax
 
Author:
Serves: 3 Dozen
 
Ingredients
  • ½ Cup Butter
  • ½ Cup Shortening
  • ¾ Cup Brown Sugar
  • ¾ Cup White Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract or Paste
  • 1½ Cups Gluten Free All Purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Xanthan Gum
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup Flax Meal
  • 2 Cups Rolled Oats
  • 2 Cups Chocolate Chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Cream together butter, shortening, brown sugar and white sugar until fluffy. Mix in eggs and vanilla.
  3. Stir in flour, flax meal, xanthan gum, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add Oats and incorporate well. Finally stir in chocolate chips.
  4. Drop by tablespoon or cookie scoop onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes

Caramel Corn

We have had a pretty busy weekend in our house. On Saturday my daughter and I participated in Wreaths Across America here  on Fort Bragg.
Caramel Corn | Country Girl Gourmet

This experience brought up a slew of questions as well as memories for my daughter of the only time she has ever been in a cemetery, after my grandmother’s death. This led into conversations about my grandma and all of our happy memories. One those memories was Caramel Corn. Every year during the holidays a bag of this was sure to pop up and a few years back when we were living in New Jersey my grandma was able to spend the holidays with us. On her list of things to make with her great-grandkids while she was visiting was caramel corn. My kid’s loved it and the tradition of Caramel Corn lives on in my family with us making her yummy recipe.
Caramel Corn | Country Girl Gourmet

My grandma’s recipe is pretty easy to make. In fact you do not even need the oven for it. The recipe is primarily made on the stove top and microwave. The recipe starts with making popcorn. While it is popping you can make the caramel sauce. The caramel sauce is made on the stove and takes less than 15 minutes to make. You do not need anything special for it other than a heavy bottomed saucepan. No thermometer, just bring to a boil on medium for 5 minutes and bam it’s done! Then all you do is pour the caramel over the popcorn and coat well and microwave the popcorn. Let it cool and then try not to eat it all. My family is addicted to it. Granted there are 6 of us but I can make up a bowl and it will be gone in a day! It really is good stuff! I am sure your family will love it as much as mine!

Caramel Corn | Country Girl Gourmet

Check out my 12 Days of Homemade Christmas for other great ideas!

 

Caramel Corn
 
Author:
 
Ingredients
  • 4 Quarts Popped, Popcorn
  • 1 Cup Peanuts
  • 1 Cup Brown Sugar
  • ¼ cup and 1 teaspoon Corn Syrup
  • ½ Cup Butter or Margarine
  • ½ Teaspoon Salt
  • ½ Teaspoon Baking Soda
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl combine popped popcorn and peanuts.
  2. In a heavy saucepan combine brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt and cook on medium until it boils. Boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda.
  3. Pour caramel mix over popcorn, mixing to coat well.
  4. Cook in Microwave on high for 1.5 minutes then stir well, then cook on high 1 minute and then stir, next cook on high 45 seconds and then stir. Finally cook on high for 35 seconds Stir and then spread out and cool on wax or parchment paper.

12 Days of Homemade Christmas 2015

I debated doing 12 Days of Homemade Christmas again this year. Honestly it is hard deciding what recipes to include especially since I like to make family favorites. I have so many cookie and other sweet treat recipes on the blog already but I went to work. I have been working on my list for a couple months now. I hope you and your family like the sweet treats I have chosen this year as much as my family does! Just like I have done in years past, check back here every day for the newest recipe!

From my family to yours i’d like to wish everyone Sweet Eats and a very Merry Christmas!

12 Days of Homemade Christmas | Country Girl Gourmet

12 Days of Homemade Christmas

Day 1: Vanilla Bean Scones

Vanilla Bean Scones | Country Girl Gourmet

Day 2: Caramel Corn

Caramel Corn | Country Girl Gourmet

Day 3: Classic Snickerdoodle Cookies

Classic Snickerdoodle Cookie | Country Girl Gourmet

Day4: Pecan Pie

Pecan Pie | Country Girl Gourmet

Day 5: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies with Flax

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies with Flax | Country Girl Gourmet

Day 6: Classic Chex Mix

Classic Chex Mix | Country Girl Gourmet

Day 7: Cut Out Sugar Cookies

Cut Out Sugar Cookies |Country Girl Gourmet

Day 8:  Chocolate Mint Crinkles

Chocolate Mint Crinkles | Country Girl Gourmet

Day 9: Gluten Free Shortbread Cookies

Gluten Free Shortbread Cookies |Country Girl Gourmet

Day 10: Sugar Cookie Frosting

Sugar Cookie Frosting | Country Girl Gourmet

Day 11: Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies

Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies | Country Girl Gourmet

Day 12: Cracked Sugar Cookies

Cracked Sugar Cookies | Country Girl Gourmet

What are you baking this Christmas?

2014 Homemade Christmas

2013 Homemade Christmas

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes with Browned Butter and Toasted Marshmallow

We are now less than a week away from Thanksgiving, are you ready? I’m sadly not cooking a feast this year so I don’t have a menu to share but that doesn’t mean that I can’t experiment a little to find tasty dishes for future Thanksgivings and/or holidays. So, I have been cooking and coming up with a few new (to my family) dishes that would be great on Thanksgiving  or anytime you are wanting something a little extra special.

We eat a lot of sweet potatoes in our house, they are a staple. My top ways of making them are baking and roasting and typically on holidays I make my sweet potato casserole. It is awesome, it’s even award winning,lol, but i’m keeping that recipe to myself for a bit longer. What i’m going to share with you is,Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes with Browned Butter and Toasted Marshmallow. It  is simply awesome.

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes with Browned Butter and Toasted Marshmallow | Country Girl Gourmet

When looking at this recipe you may be thinking cream cheese and sweet potatoes, say what? I know, I thought the same thing. I never thought to mash sweet potatoes with cream cheese but guess what? It works and it makes them awesome. To make them even better just add browned butter and finish by giving them a spicy bite cayenne pepper. Oh and of course top with some toasty marshmallows. It is a flavor explosion in your mouth!

Outside of how great these taste the only thing better about this recipe is how easy these are to make while looking like you spent hours on them. While they do take a while to make that is because you roast the sweet potatoes and that takes time the rest is pretty easy. While your potatoes are cooling enough to handle you brown your butter. Once that is done set aside while you carefully split and scoop out you sweet potatoes. While you can use a hand masher I use a hand mixer to mash my sweet potatoes to help get some of the stringy fibers that can sometimes be found in sweet potatoes. Then all is left is refilling the sweet potato skins and to do this I use a piping bag to get it done quick and easy. Top with mini marshmallows  and bake until toasty. Then there you have it, a side dish that will make your guest go wow that looks amazing that will be soon be followed by it taste amazing too.

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes with Browned Butter and Toasted Marshmallow | Country Girl Gourmet

So how are you making your sweet potatoes this year? Try Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes with Browned Butter and Toasted Marshmallow and you and your family and friends won’t be disappointed!

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes with Browned Butter and Toasted Marshmallow
 
Author:
 
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 sweet potatoes
  • sea salt to taste
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper, or more to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Rub olive oil onto the outside of each sweet potato and sprinkle sea salt over each. Arrange sweet potatoes on the prepared baking sheet.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until a sharp knife easily pierces the potato, 50 to 60 minutes. Cool sweet potatoes until easily handled, 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat until solids begin to brown and smell nutty, 5 to 8 minutes.
  5. Slice potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop insides into a large bowl. Add browned butter, cream cheese, ½ teaspoon salt, cayenne pepper, and black pepper and mash using a potato masher until smooth. Spoon mixture back into the sweet potato skins and top each with ¼ cup marshmallows. Place sweet potatoes back onto the baking sheet.
  6. Bake in the oven until warmed through and marshmallows are toasted, about 10 minutes.

Recipe from Allrecipes.com

Peppermint Meringues

We are coming to the tail end of my 12 days of Homemade Christmas and I have a simple 5 ingredient treat. They are considered a cookie, not candy and are completely gluten free. My day 11 pic for my Homemade Christmas is Peppermint Meringues. These are sweet bites of airy and light with a bit of crispness, deliciousness! I seriously could eat them all. It is a good thing that they are only 13 calories!

Don’t let the meringue part scare you, making meringue is easy. All you really need is a good mixer as mixing by hand will not get you the same results. Here are a few of my best tips:

  • Pick a dry day to make your meringues. They will turn out better on a dry day compared to a rainy or extra humid day. The moisture will prevent the stiff peaks from properly forming.
  • Remember to use room temperature egg whites.
  • Be sure not to get any yolk mixed in with your egg whites. Your egg whites will not properly stiffen.
  • Do not beat your egg whites until they are just white, beat for an extra couple minutes. You are wanting stiff peaks.
  • Add your sugar and other add in’s (crushed candy canes, chocolate chips, etc.) slowly, don’t plop it in! You will lose air and your peaks can deflate.
  • You can dollop with a spoon but if you want to get fancy a freezer ziplock bag makes an excellent piping bag! Just cut the corner off for the tip.
  • Use parchment instead of foil or a silpat when baking.
  • Use an oven thermometer! Check your oven temperature to make sure it isn’t too hot before baking.
  • To help avoid cracks, do not take out of the oven until completely cool. My family is impatient so mine almost always have cracks. They are still pretty tasty with cracks.
  • Baking low and slow also help prevent cracks.I hope you and your family and friends like these Peppermint Meringues as much as mine does!

 

Peppermint Meringues | Country Girl Gourmet

 

Peppermint Meringues
 
Author:
 
A light and airy peppermint cookie
Ingredients
  • 2 egg whites
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 2 peppermint candy canes, crushed
  • *optional* ½-1 cup mini chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 225 degrees F (110 degrees C). Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large glass or metal mixing bowl, beat egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar to soft peaks. Gradually add sugar, continuing to beat until whites form stiff peaks. If desired carefully fold in mini chocolate chips. Drop by spoonfuls 1 inch apart on the prepared cookie sheets. Sprinkle crushed peppermint candy over the cookies.
  3. Bake for 1½ hours in preheated oven. Meringues should be completely dry on the inside. Do not allow them to brown. Turn off oven. Keep oven door ajar, and let meringues sit in the oven until completely cool. Loosen from foil with metal spatula. Store loosely covered in cool dry place for up to 2 months.

Adapted from Allrecipes.com

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