Friday, December 18, 2009

Bite-Size Rainbow Cookies

When I came across this recipe, I knew it would be a great one to have a how-to on. Not just because I wanted a recipe to share, but reading the instructions that were provided in the newspaper was a disaster. They were unclear and convoluted, and I thought "pictures would make this SO much easier" ... *DING* lightbulb (or fries are done).

Rainbow Cookies

2 cups of flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Pinch of baking soda
10 tbsp butter
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
Food coloring (4-10 drops of each, depending on how saturated you want your cookies)
Water OR milk for brushing between layers

So, these are, basically, a mix of sugar & shortbread cookies.

1) Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

2) Combine butter and sugars on medium speed with an electric mixer, or by hand if you are tough (lazy) like me, until light and fluffy. Then add egg and vanilla until fully incorporated.

3) Reduce speed, or mix in by hand, the flour mixture in 3 parts, beating until a soft dough forms.

4) Divide dough into parts. Now, I used 4 colors, so that meant four balls. If you do more colors, you make more balls. I place each ball on a sheet of foil to make adding color easier, and to make less dishes. Wax or parchment paper works, too.

5) After these are separated (and make sure they are even!), prepare any colors you need to (if you're making fancy colors like purple or orange) and press a hole/well into each dough ball. Drop 4-10 drops of food coloring into each well. I used 6.

6) Now the messy part. This part is great for kids, and you can even use this as an interactive way to teach colors (I was a Pre-K teacher, I can't help but think of these things). I just go ball to the wall (so the speak) and use ungloved hands to mix in my colors. If you're worried about having rainbow hands for 2 days, go head and get gloves for this step. I think gloves are for sissies.

7) Now you have your lovely, colorful dough balls. Pop in the freezer for 5 minutes to harden them up. While they're gettin' chilly, get out a rolling pin and some parchment/wax paper or foil, if you are in a pinch. Take your hardened balls (hope that term brings someone here who was googling something else entirely) and move them to whatever sheet of paper you're using and, one by one, roll them into 4-5 inch long tubes/snakes, by hand. Like you do with playdough.

(not a hotdog)

8) Making tubes first makes rolling these into rectangles WAY EASIER. Trust me. Once you've got some dough tubes, you're going to roll them out into flat rectangles (or as close to rectangle shape as you can get). Make sure you apply even weight across the tube because you really don't want these to taper. Ideally, you want about 9-10" long rectangles, about 4-5" wide.

Side note: rolling out the green felt like I was murdering Gumby.

9) After all your colors are rolled out flat, and into pretty equal sizes, get out your water or milk for brushing. Start with the color your want on the bottom and work up from that, keeping that one on your wax/parch paper. I wanted blue on the bottom, so I brushed blue with some water, and then layed green on it. Repeated with yellow then red. As you are layering, remove the paper between layers. I mean, unless you WANT to eat paper. Freak. Gently press layers down a bit, just to make sure they're super snuggly. Pop in the freezer again, for about 10 minutes.

10) After hardening up again, take out and cut down the middle, making 2-2.5" strips. Brush one strip with water/milk and sit the other on top. Press gently again to encourage dough snuggles. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 3 hours; overnight works, too.

11) After your dough gets a good night's rest, or nap, take it out of the fridge and unwrap. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease 2 cookie sheets. If you're a neat-freak or obsessed with pretty looking food (like me), trim edges for a uniform look. You can make a few tie-dye cookies with the extras (or just eat the dough). Now slice 1/8-1/4" thick slices from your dough to make little rectangle cookies.

I like softer cookies, so I cut mine into thick slices, resulting in about 50 cookies. If you like thin/crispy cookies, cut thin and get about 100 cookies. They are tiny cookies, so if you have a party or kid's classroom to make something for, these are GREAT! Makes a ton, bite-size, and they always draw attention. Bonus: you look like a baking master. Brag away.

12) Bake thicker cookies for 8-10 minutes, thin cookies for 5-7 until edges are slightly golden (it'll be hard to tell). If you trimmed the edges, I just like to mold them together into tie-dye cookies, those bake about 10 minutes.

Let cool, and enjoy! This recipe is fantastic for Easter/Spring, and you could do any colors on the cookies. So if you're feeling in the Christmas spirit (which, most of you probably are) you could make Green/Red or Green/Red/Yellow easily. Have fun!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Cat and His Box

My kitty, Banjo, has an addiction. An obsession. And it's boxes.

If there is a box in the apartment, he will find it and squeeze all 16lbs of him in it (which is a healthy weight for a Maine Coon, in case anyone was like OMG FATTY CATTY).

2 weekend ago, I bought a new box of mandarin orange seltzer, and after emptying out the box, I tossed it on the floor for my dear furry friend to investigate. Well, it was love at first sight. He lays by this box all the time, and tries to fit into it, using Maru's technique.

Last week, he parted from the box for a little to hang out by the window and chatter at birds, and my other cat, Jinx, came to check it out. Without missing a beat, he sprints from the bedroom to the kitchen and LEAPS on her (he is twice her weight), causing her to hiss and run away. He then nibbled his box and shifted his eyes around for 5 minutes.

What a life.