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Holiday Cookie Baking

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…cookie baking time! I love baking for the holidays, it just gets me in the giving spirit. This year I invited a few friends (including my baking hero George Waldron) to come over and decorate cookies. We snacked on some appetizers from Ina Garten’s new cookbook and learned some simple, easy tips to decorate cookies like a pro! 

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Holiday Gift Guide with @StoreBoughtIsFine

Holiday Gift Guide with @StoreBoughtIsFine

Sneaking in one more post with Trent from @StoreBoughtIsFine before the end of the year. He's got a lot of friends and a lot of great gift ideas. After reading this blog, you'll wish you were on his 'nice' list. Happy Holidays and Happy Gifting..

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Great Gifts for the Host & Hostess

Great Gifts for the Host & Hostess



The holidays are upon us and it’s one my favorite times of the year. Yes, it’s busy - shopping, baking, school events, holiday concerts, dinner with friends, weekends with family. There is so much happening, but no matter where we’re going, I never like to show up empty handed. Hence the theme of this post – Host/Hostess Gifts. We know the length of your to-do list is already overwhelming - we’ve put together some quick and easy gifts so you can show your appreciation and spread some holiday cheer.

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In The Kitchen - Make Ahead Meals

In The Kitchen - Make Ahead Meals

In the next few weeks Cassandra’s Kitchen will have a new addition…one of the women that works with us, Michelle, is having her third little babe! Those first few weeks at home can be a whirlwind – especially with a 4 and 2-year-old on summer vacation. We've gathering ideas for some Make Ahead Meals for Michelle and her family – with a stocked fridge and freezer, yummy food is one less thing they need to worry about.

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Ina's Coconut Macaroons

Ina's Coconut Macaroons

I wanted to make a sweet treat this week and my mom suggested Ina’s Coconut Macaroons (Family Style). They’re easy and delicious – especially if you are a coconut lover like me.

I made a batch and put together a few bags to give out to friends – I even gave one to our super appreciative delivery guy. Lucky for him, he arrived just as I was bagging them up!

Here are a couple of my tips: 

I used the 1.6" stainless steel scoop to the get the macaroons just right on the baking sheet. I tried not to let too much of the coconut mixture spread outside of the scoop, so they stayed in mounds without a lot of excess spreading on the baking sheet.

Use an oven thermometer to get the correct oven temperature. Don’t rely on your oven sensors - ovens can run 25-50 degrees off. (I have two ovens and neither of them keep the temperature I set. One reads 350, but rarely ever gets there and my other is usually 50 degrees cooler than the oven reading.) Baking at the correct temperature will allow the macaroons to brown without burning. 

Here’s the recipe:

14 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Combine the coconut, condensed milk, and vanilla in a large bowl. Whip the egg whites and salt on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until they make medium-firm peaks. Carefully fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture.

Drop the batter onto sheet pans lined with parchment paper using either a 1 3/4-inch diameter ice cream scoop, or two teaspoons. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Cool and serve (or place in glassine bags for your friends!).

Sweetened coconut is sometimes called "flaked coconut."

These cookies will stay fresh for a few days if they are wrapped and left at room temperature.

- Cassandra

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5-Piece Baking Package

When I think of baking, my mind automatically jumps to Ina’s Outrageous Brownie recipe. It’s one of my favorites and it works so well with my half sheet pan (the perfectly precut parchment baking sheet is a MUST have for this recipe). The half sheet pan and cooling rack are great for baking cookies (Salty Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk, anyone?) and evenly roasting all types of veggies. But honestly, the thing I bake most often is bacon.

I’ve been using my cooling rack and half sheet pans to prepare bacon for a while now. It’s simple, less messy, and a great time-saver for when I have guests for breakfast (like during a 3-day holiday weekend). I preheat my oven to 400 degrees, line the half sheet pan with foil, set the cooling rack on top, and put the strips of bacon directly on the rack. I bake it for about 20 minutes - until crispy. After removing the pan from the oven, I usually dab each piece of bacon with a paper towel to soak up any excess grease (most of the mess drips below the cooling rack). Voila, crispy bacon. And I get to sit and drink coffee instead of standing over my stove avoiding grease.

In honor of the Columbus Day weekend (and breakfast guests), we're offering the 5-Piece Professional Baking Package for 20% Off. Package includes: Half Sheet Pan, Quarter Sheet Pan, Cross Wire Cooling Rack, Pan Cover, and Parchment Baking Sheets. Available October 10th - 12th. 

-Cassandra

 

 

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