Aw, ’tis the season for baking! I could hardly wait for this month. This is when I usually go buck-wild in the kitchen looking up new recipes to try and in turn I lean on my old reliables to get me through. It’s truly the most wonderful (and delicious) time of the year!
But not this year. Even with the longer-than-usual “holiday season” and the extra weekend tucked in there (Thanksgiving was pretty early this year), time’s managed to get away from me. Our family also happened to be away from home more weekends than usual, including this weekend before Christmas that’s usually reserved exclusively for hours of hours of holiday baking hoopla. Whoops.
Thankfully, I’ve not been completely out of the oven this season, all thanks to this wonderful Krusteaz sugar cookie mix I happened to discovered at Costco a few weeks ago. As you can see, the bag claims that it has potential to yield 21 dozen cookies. Yes, you read that right: 21 dozen. This super-sized sack can make seven batches of sugar cookie dough; all it takes is 2-1/2 cups of the mix combined with one egg and one stick (1/2 c.) butter. Each batch then yields anywhere from one to three dozen cookies depending on whether you are making small, medium, or large size drop cookies, or if you are making the dough for cut-outs (number of cookies vary based on size of cutters). Cost for one bag of this mix is just under $7 (or under 3 cents per cookie, or under 35 cents/dozen, minus cost of butter and eggs… though I’d be spending hefty on butter and eggs this month anyway, so my budget stays steady there).
Not only is this mix extremely affordable, but it’s also extremely easy to work with… too easy really. In just 35 minutes, and so long as I’ve remembered to pull an egg and a stick of butter from my fridge about two hours beforehand (this dough comes together best with room temp. egg and butter), I’ve been able to crank out a dozen-and-a-half, fresh-baked cookies after dinner on a weeknight without much effort at all. What parent can say that anything gets done in that time between dinner and bedtime, let alone baking – and wrapping up – a batch of cookies?!
To date, I’ve made cookies for the staff in the office at school (twice). I’ve made cookies for the teacher (twice). I’ve made cookies for a few parties this season. And best of all, I’ve made cookies for our own family for less than the price of the cost of any box of store-bought anything. Even better – my boys LOVE THESE COOKIES. In fact, my unforeseen baking mania earlier this month made it necessary for me to return to Costco for another bag just in case I ran out before the actual Christmas holiday. Good thing I did that as I just finished batch seven this week. How crazy of me to think I wouldn’t even get through one bag, let alone scoop into a second?!
I am glad I “ran out of time to bake this year.” It’s allowed all of us to enjoy the season more with one another, both near and far from home, and yet we’ve not missed out on freshly baked anything either. No, these cookies aren’t “homemade” or “from scratch,” but I’ve learned a pretty good lesson here. Sometimes it’s just the act of baking that counts. My boys haven’t missed the fact that there’s not a multitude of holiday treats to choose from, and I haven’t missed out on any time in the kitchen this month. In fact, I’ve probably spent more time baking than usual, or at least it feels like it, and that’s a fantastic feeling. I’ve also easily saved money in that I didn’t hunt around for exotic ingredients that I might have used once then watched go stale the other 11 months of the year. And best of all, I’ve budgeted my time wisely by baking during a period of my day that would have otherwise be under-utilized. In turn, I freed up an entire weekend that would have kept us home and away from some extra holiday fun.
What lessons have you learned this holiday season, either by accident or on purpose, RMT’ers?