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Michelle Martinez, What Are You Baking?

Even if your oven sits cold all year, chances are you're considering firing it up, right about now. As a holiday twist on our "What Are You Eating?" feature on Chow Bella and "What Are You Wearing?" on Jackalope Ranch, this holiday season we brought you "What Are You Baking?"...
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Even if your oven sits cold all year, chances are you're considering firing it up, right about now. As a holiday twist on our "What Are You Eating?" feature on Chow Bella and "What Are You Wearing?" on Jackalope Ranch, this holiday season we brought you "What Are You Baking?" Complete with a recipe, so you can DIY.

Today Michelle Martinez shares her recipe for stained glass cookies. Michelle writes, teaches, cooks, bakes, and lives in Tempe.

What are you baking for the holidays this year?

Every year we invite the "cul-de-sac" kids over to the house to decorate cookies. Now that my daughter is in junior high, the cookies have gotten more complicated. This year we are making "stained glass cookies". For our family, as for many this year, funds are sparse, so we are making these cookies to give to our dozens of cousins as ornaments. We are also making chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cookies, buckeyes, sugar cookies, and peanut butter based dog biscuits. Yes, dog biscuits. Our canine friends like Christmas too.

I have recently discovered an heirloom recipe for sugar cream pie and have been experimenting with it. When I followed the original it came out like glue, so I am I trying my best to update to the 21st century. We are also cranking out some bread, apple/date/craisin pie (with the help of the pie bird), empanadas, and homemade peppermint ice cream. I am lucky that I have some elves to help me with all of this.

Favorite holiday treats?

My tia's tamales!! Of course my family's tamales are the best. I do understand that you think your mom's, or your nana's, or your tia's, or even your own could possibly better than my Tia Toni's or my tTa Vicky's. You have to think that. I totally get it. And that's OK, because you haven't tried my tia's tamales anyway.

My mother-in-law's pasteles. A pastel is not a cake in Puerto Rico. (A torta is. You order a torta in PR and you better want some dessert and not a sandwich) It is a bundle of deliciousness similar to a tamal in structure with plaintain or yucca root inside, instead of corn masa, and wrapped in banana leaf or parchment with a Puerto Rican flavor profile with savory pork and pimento stuffed green olive inside. and lots of coquito.

Coquito!! Coconut based egg nog, heavy on the rum. This will definitely put you in the holiday spirit. Christmas in a bottle!! I save the latch top bottles from that yummy French Lemonade all summer to store the coquito in during the holidays. (Ikea sells those bottles for $3 a piece, but that's about what the lemonade costs, so I feel as if drinking the lemonade makes it a better bargain) I make a few batches of it every year. It makes a great gift to people you REALLY like.

Find out how to make stained glass cookies after the jump.

Least favorite holiday foods?

Funeral Beans. Well, we call them that in our family because a relative owns a funeral home and that dump and stir green bean and cream of mushroom, cholesterol bomb fried onions glop was always on the menu at the funerals, so my aunts always call them that. I have deconstructed this dish and make it with crispy shallots, satueed wild mushrooms, and haricot verts. Much better, thank you.

Any food items on your holiday wish list this year?

A Kitchen-Aid Stand mixer? An eating tour of Italy, France, and/or Thailand?

Any food-related New Year's resolutions?

To burn off as much as I take in.


Stained Glass Cookies

To make stained glass cookies you will need:

Life Saver candy (the fruit flavors are colorful and work best)
Your favorite gingerbread cookie dough (see recipe below for one or you can use the ready made kind from the store)
Aluminum Foil
Cookie cutters
A piece of paperboard or cardboard
Steak knife
Pasta cutter (It looks like a mini pizza cutter. If you have one, it is great for cutting around curved patterns.)
Chopsticks (It is helpful to push the Life Saver crumbles where you want them.)

and the usual: rolling pin, flour, cookie sheet, preheated oven to 350.

Use the paperboard or cardboard to make patterns. We made a simple circular ornament pattern. Then roll out the dough on a floured surface and use the patterns or cookie cutters (use one with lots of surface area) to make your shapes. We used bell, angel, and Christmas tree cookie cutters as well as our paper board ornament pattern.

Sort the Life Savers by color and then place them into zip top baggies. Wrap baggie in a towel and smack with a mallet (mallets work best, but meat tenderizers, rolling pins, cast iron skillets will also work) until completely crumbled into small granules (if left too big, they will not melt properly). Then dump the granules into a small bowl or cup to make it easier to work with when you are ready.

Once you cut out the cookie shape, transfer it to a square of aluminum foil. Then make a cut out in the center using the steak knife. You can get as creative as you want with this. We cut out our initials as will as peace signs, stripes, etc. Be sure to not to leave the edges to thick. If the dough breaks during this process, just press it back into shape. On some of ours, we add a tab and cut a hole in it, to use the cookie as an actual ornament.

Sprinkle the life saver granules into the shape. Use a chopstick to push it where you want it.

Bake for 7-9 minutes. Keep a close eye on them in the final minutes to prevent burning. The candy center may bubble a little, but if it it sizzling, they have been in too long.

Let the baking sheet cool for a couple of minutes to let the candy harden before transferring to a wire cooling rack. Once the cookies are completely cool to touch, very slowly peel the foil off of the back.

Basic gingerbread cookie dough:

2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup water

Sift flour and baking soda together into a bowl. Mix in the salt, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice.

Cream the sugar and butter together in a separate mixing bowl, large enough to incorporate the dry ingredients. Once the butter and sugar are creamed, add the molasses and water.

Gradually add the dry mix to the wet mix. Blend them until the dough can be formed into a ball. Sprinkle some flour on the ball of dough, cover and chill for at least one hour.

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