In the interest of paying it forward, I must tell you about a blog I love. It's called 2BKrafty and it is the brainchild of the fabulous Janine, who just happens to live in my old stomping grounds of Southwestern Ontario. Now, I'm about to risk sounding like an exciteable 12 year-old at the Twilight premiere here, but this lady's creations are AWESOME!! She is a serious stamper and her blog inspires and amazes every single day. This week Janine announced that she was hosting a cookie recipe exchange, and up until I saw this, I was having serious difficulty figuring out what the heck to give Firstborn's teacher for Christmas. After a devastating experience with a bad batch of apple butter this past fall, I decided that no one will be receiving my trademark jams and pickles this year, just to be on the safe side. And having been a classroom teacher in my former life, I wasn't about to load the poor woman down with her umpteenth scented candle or dollar store coffee mug (not that those things aren't appreciated). So, when I read Janine's post, I got straight to work.
Being a recycler of everything, I set myself up a little challenge of sorts. As many crafters can attest, being crafty and having a whole lot of stuff go hand-in-hand. So I decided that for my projects this holiday season, be they knitting, paper crafts or beading, I will only use what I already have at my disposal here--no running out to buy anything new! I used a burgundy-coloured, child-sized shoebox, to which I affixed 2 different lengths of blue ribbon (which also covered up the unsightly brand name logos all over the box!). I then attached a tag I made with some cardstock and a punch from Stampin' Up, some gold card that came in a bar of chocolate (yeah, seriously) and I punched out 3 snowflakes from a paint sample I've had kicking around that just happened to match the colour of the shoebox (Janine, I hope you're not having a heart attack yet). I finished it off with 3 dots of gold glitter on the snowflakes (I really wanted some gold brads here, but that's the problem with setting up no-buying rules beforehand) and one of my own homemade beaded Christmas ornaments. It's definitely not the professional quality I've grown accustomed to seeing on 2BKrafty, but I'm pretty sure Firstborn's teacher will be suitably impressed.As for the recipe, I've also veered off in my own direction and decided to include 2 different baked goods (and I'm considering squeezing in a third if I can find the time to do more baking), one being a basic fudge brownie recipe, and the other being New Zealand Shortbread, which is a Christmas tradition in our house, and an old family recipe. I'll assume you can read between the lines here and guess that when I say "family", I mean the Captain's family, since my family is just as happy to hit the grocery store and pick up a jumbo tin of custard creams.
For anyone out there interested in making herself a small batch of New Zealand Shortbread (and I do highly recommend them), I give you the recipe:
3/4 cup butter, softened
6 tbsp confectioners' sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
Mix well and press 3/4 of the mixture into a buttered and floured 8x8 baking dish. Set aside remaining mix.
Combine the following and cook either over low heat or in the microwave until the mixture is smooth:
1/2 can sweetened condensed milk
2 tbsp corn syrup
2 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
Pour mixture over shortbread in the pan and crumble remaining shortbread mix over condensed milk mixture. Bake at 350F for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden. When completely cool, cut into 16 squares.
This recipe can be doubled, and if you don't want to find yourself sneaking spoonfuls of the remaining 1/2 can of condensed milk when no one's looking, I suggest you make a double batch. They do freeze well.
So there you have it, I've participated in a fun recipe exchange and figured out a great gift for a deserving teacher. Not bad for a day's work!