Isn’t it funny how different things look once we grow up and have to view life through “grown up” eyes?
Seriously, where’s the part between our teenage years and adulthood where they sit us down and tell us all the little things?
Like exactly what ages you have to take your child for shots.
Or, how early you need to get to the school to get a good place in the pick-up line.
And how to talk the furniture salesman down on the price of a couch and loveseat set.
Or, how to plan for the holidays.
As a 30-year-old woman with a 6-year-old son, I consider myself relatively new to the Thanksgiving scene.
Should I be embarrassed to admit that I’m still a bit intimidated by the whole thing? Because, I totally am intimidated.
A turkey, six or seven sides (am I supposed to make more than that? Please don’t tell me I’ve been doing it wrong), rolls, several desserts, appetizers of some sort…and one little oven.
There is a trick to this, I’m sure, but I have a feeling it involves a mathematical equation. Algebra, probably, which incidentally, is the one subject that I convinced myself that I didn’t need in high school.
One thing I’ve discovered over the years though is that there is this little window of time in November, right after Halloween and before the week of Thanksgiving, that is absolutely essential to a successful and sane Thanksgiving.
During this three week window, your child will munch on Halloween candy and wonder where his fun-size candy bars went.
You ate them.
But you are not going to tell your child that, or feel guilty.
Because you are too busy doing your Thanksgiving baking.
You’re just an awesome, well-organized mom like that.
Every Thanksgiving, my family always goes to one very large dinner in the afternoon and we have our own small family dinner later in the evening. I have taken to bringing a large tray of assorted cookies and brownies to our large family function. Mostly because I know that everyone else’s instinct will be to bring a pie–which is great–but I don’t want to bring something that there is already a dozen of.
Most of the families at our big dinner actually have several other Thanksgivings to attend later, so a tray of cookies and brownies is handy for those in a rush, since they can just grab a few on their way out the door. And I love that children can just grab what they want and not wait for an adult to come and cut them a slice of something.
I’m all about helping children get the sugar they need. It’s what I do.
So during this three-week after Halloween window, I bake brownies and bars.
I make cookie dough.
I even make a huge pot of chili and chicken soup.
And I freeze it all.
The chili and soup comes in handy in the days right after Thanksgiving when everyone’s sick of leftovers but I’m too tired from Black Friday crazy shopping to even think about dinner.
And there is one line of products that are absolutely essential when it comes to storing and freezing food:Ziploc Brand Bags and Containers.
Such is my love of Ziploc, that I actually buy huge cases of their freezer bags at discount stores, so I can have them on hand at all times.
Not once in all the times I have used Ziploc for freezing food have I had a problem with freezer burn or food quality.
Freezer burn on my brownies would probably cause me to dissolve into tears.
So today, not only am I going to share two of my favorite recipes for brownies and chocolate chip cookies, but I’m going to show you how to freeze them correctly so they’ll be fresh and yummy for the holidays.
Freezing Directions (Brownies/Bars):
1. Line your pan with foil. Spray the foil according to the recipe instructions for spraying the pan.
2. Make your batter, pour it in and bake your brownies according to the recipe.
3. Once brownies are done, remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack. When the brownies have cooled to room temperature, cover the pan with Saran Wrap and refrigerate for about an hour.
4. Remove pan from refrigerator, and pull off the Saran Wrap. Peel the sides of the foil down and cut the brownies. I use a square (or round) biscuit cutter to ensure neatly cut, evenly sized brownies.
Freezing frosted brownies is not recommended, so if you’d like to frost them, do so after thawing right before serving.
5. Wrap each brownie individually in Saran Wrap. Place individually wrapped brownies in a Ziploc Brand Freezer Bag or a ZiplocBrand Container.
Ziploc Brand Bags with the Smart Zip Seal and Ziploc Brand Containers with the Smart Snap Seal allow you to hear and feel the bag or container seal close. No worrying about if there is any air getting into your food!
6. When you’re ready for your brownies, remove them from the freezer and allow to thaw.
Brownies can be safely stored in the freezer for up to three months and also taste GREAT frozen (they stay soft, and do not freeze hard), so it is never a bad thing to have a few hanging around your freezer.
When it comes to freezing cookies, I prefer freezing the cookie dough to freezing cookies already baked. The dough can be baked right out of the freezer; you just add a bit to the baking time. Fresh baked cookies are never a bad thing and people are super impressed that you had time to bake cookies what with all your Thanksgiving cooking.
I love impressing people, don’t you?
Freezing Directions (Cookie Dough):
1. Make your cookie dough according to recipe instructions. Make sure dough is firm enough to scoop out neatly. If it isn’t, chill it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
2. Line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper. With a cookie scoop or a small measuring cup, scoop out the dough and place on the parchment sheet. If you are baking cookies that require you to flatten the dough balls slightly (peanut butter, sugar cookies) before baking, do so.
3. Place the baking sheets with cookie dough in the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour. Once the dough balls have chilled long enough that they are no longer sticky on the outside, place them in a large Ziploc Brand Freezer Bag. When you close the bag, try to let out as much air as possible. Keep the bag of cookie dough in the freezer until ready to use.
4. When you are ready to bake your cookies, preheat your oven and bake the frozen dough balls according to recipe instructions, adding a little extra baking time.
If you prefer to thaw your cookie dough before baking, it is important that you remove the dough from the bag and place them on cookie sheets to prevent them from sticking together once they soften. It is not recommended that you freeze cookie dough for no more than six weeks.
I have discovered that when I bake an entire batch of cookies, half of them go stale before they are eaten, so I’ve started baking half the batch and freezing the other half of dough. It’s nice to have when I come home from running errands in the cold or I can throw them in the oven when company is coming to make the house smell good.
Did you know you can even freeze cupcake batter? You totally can. My friend Shelly at Cookies and Cups tried it and it worked like a charm. Just make your batter, pour it in a large Ziploc Brand Freezer Bag and freeze.
Chili, soup, chicken and dumplings…all can be made in large pots and divided up into Ziploc Brand Containers and put in the freezer. The great thing about Ziploc Brand Containers is that they come in all sizes, so you can freeze food in containers large enough for a family meal, or in smaller, individual portions.
Here are links to recipes for my favorite cookies and bars:
Together, maybe we can get this holiday thing figured out!
Check out yummy recipes and more holiday entertaining tips at Facebook.com/Ziploc.
* This post is sponsored by ZiplocÂ®, but my review and opinions are my own.