Thursday, December 18, 2008

My new favorite kitchen tools

I am finally participating in Alaina's Keeping Creative Kitchens! I've meant to have a post up for this for many, many weeks, and I'm so excited that my planned topic just happens to fit this week's theme perfectly. The theme is cookies and candy, which, of course, is extremely appropriate considering that Christmas is a week away.

One week! Where did the time time go??

Anyway, I want to share with you something that I bought for my birthday in November. I invested in two baking sheets that are basically the full size of my oven. I got the idea here, and here is where I found the right size cookie sheet.

FYI, I discovered that there are two (or three?) standard sizes for baking sheets - full, half, and I think I also saw a quarter-size. The full size is made to fit in a professional oven, and is just wee bit too big for a conventional home oven. This site has a size that is specific for conventional ovens, and is called the "home" size, which is what I ended up getting.

One of the things that I LOVE about having these is that I can maximize my time. On the day after Thanksgiving, I made shortbread cookies with Kaitlyn, and was able to make almost all of a double batch of cookies in one shot!

I also used parchment paper for the first time, and I fell in love with that, too. Easy clean up!

Here are both sheets of cookies in the oven:

After taking them out of the oven, I slid the whole sheet of parchment paper onto cooling racks. (Which is a lot easier to type than it is to do. For about 1.2 seconds I thought all of my cookies were going to slide right onto the floor. Hopefully I will get better at this technique.)

One of the things I've always hated about making cookies is the time it takes to bake them all. Put them on the cookie sheet, set the timer, wait 5-10 minutes, take them out, let them cool, take them off the cookie sheet, put new ones on the cookie sheet, repeat. It always seems to take FOREVER! But making them this way was so quick and easy. If you do a lot of baking, I would highly recommend investing in these sheets!

Of course, I can't end this post without showing some pictures of Kaitlyn. She had a blast "helping" me with the cookies. I gave her some dough and some little cookie cutters and let her do her own thing. She loved it!

Here are her cookies:

A happy girl! (With some crazy hair!)

I also want to share one of my favorite holiday cookie recipes, which comes from my mom. If we don't have these cookies, it just doesn't seem like Christmas!

Mom's Christmas Pastel Cookies

2 cups soft butter
2 cups sifted confectioner's sugar
4 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Mix butter, sugar and salt thoroughly. Add flour and blend into dough.

2. Divide dough into thirds, placing each third in a different bowl. Add a different food coloring and flavoring to each third. (1/2 to 1 teaspoon flavoring per third.) We traditionally use green/mint; red/cherry; and yellow/lemon. Use your hands to work the coloring and the flavoring throughout the dough, until it is a consistent color. (Use as much or as little coloring as you want, and expect to walk away with a lot of color on your hands!)

3. Mold each third into long, smooth rolls, about 2 inches in diameter. Roll in colored sugar or nuts. Wrap each roll in waxed paper or plastic wrap, and chill until stiff - several hours or overnight. (Can also be frozen.)

4. When you are ready to bake, slice cookies 1/8-inch thick, place on ungreased cookie sheets and bake at 375* for 7 to 9 minutes. Do not brown.


Head over to Meant to Be for more creative kitchen ideas!


Jackie @ Our Moments Our Memories said...

I didn't even know you could get cookie sheets this big! Awesome! I am in the midst of a bunch of baking, and I could sure use these. I guess it's too late for this year, but maybe next year...hmmm....

She looks super happy about cookie-making...cute!

Alaina said...

Those cookie sheets looks awesome - I can't believe how many you fit on one sheet! And your recipe looks great! Your daughter is adorable. :) So glad you joined in!

Monica said...

I'm gonna have to get me some (or at least one) of those pans. And I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE parchment paper!!! I discovered that for myself a year or so ago, and now I use it all the time.