2020 Accomplishments - December/End of the Year Update

     



December followed November with 2 blog posts, no games, and lots of baking. The year as a whole went really well for blogging and baking. I was successful of doing at least two of each of those activities each month, but we didn't make it on the board game challenge. It was a bit of a risk including that one, but it's given me some perspective going forward regarding my board gaming goals. Overall, I'm happy with what I was able to accomplish in 2020.

For 2021, I decided to be very aggressive and set 6 goals. You can read all about them here. For now, here is what I accomplished in the last month of 2020:

1) Write at least 2 blog posts each month
I stated that Christmas is Canceled.
Wrote a recap of the unplayed games I was able to get to the table in 2020.

2) Complete the 10 x 2 Board Game Challenge
As I stated in the intro, we didn't get anything played in December. It was part giving up and part canceling gaming with friends because of COVID. We ended the year with 13 of the 20 plays. Four of those were with friends, so we might not have even made it halfway otherwise. Still, nine plays at just 2 players is more than we normally do in a year and that's the positive that I'm going to take from this. I'd still like to try this challenge or something similar in the future. We'll see.

3) Bake at least 2 different baked goods each month
December is always a great baking month because of Christmas cookies. There were also some other tasty items that I made. Had an extra ball of pizza dough in the fridge that needed to be used. Rolled it out, cut into 2x2 squares, and rolled them into balls. A few minutes in boiling water with baking soda, 15 minutes in the oven, and you get pretzel bites.
The first Christmas cookie for 2020 was a new family favorite, Dark Chocolate Mint Crinkle Cookies. I subbed Dove Dark Chocolate and Mint Swirl candies for the chocolate bars in this recipe and oh my God did they turn out great. They're the perfect amount of crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. The chopped candies created pockets of melted mint chocolate that was delightful. These definitely earned a spot on our list for years to come.
I had some leftover grilled chicken from a salad we had for dinner a couple nights before and decided to throw that on to a sourdough herb pizza crust along with some broccoli. It turned our pretty good and I'll likely make it again. 
I make these Cranberry Shortbread cookies every year and they continue to be my favorite. Before I made this batch, I thought the dark chocolate mint crinkle cookies might be my new favorite, but after eating a few of these I was reminded of how much I love them. They get better and better with age like a fine wine. I made a couple of containers of cookies to give to friends and heard back from multiple people that they really liked these.
Christine really wanted a ginger cookie of some sort this year and when we saw the recipe for these big, soft ginger cookies, we knew we had to make them. I had to buy a knew container of ground ginger and wow, what a difference it made. These were crispy on the outside, especially because of the sugar that they were rolled in, and really soft and chewy on the inside. The fresh ginger powder packed a lot of punch, showing me just how old my previous container was. While we likes these, I think next year we're just going to make gingerbread instead so the kids can decorate them.
We were in the need for some bagels, so I whipped up a batch with some sourdough discards. I did half with a Mexican cheese blend and half with mozzarella on top. They came out about as good as they normally do, though I'm still trying to find that sweet spot to get them to rise just a bit more. I'm not complaining though because the thinner bagels are better for my waistline. 
Last year I made Cream Cheese Shortbread with Toasted Walnuts and they were the sleeper hit. They didn't look like much, but everyone kept coming back to them again and again. This year we decided to make the same recipe only this time with pecans instead of walnuts for what should be a better flavor. We were right. They still have the same addictive quality to them, but now have a more pronounced nut flavor. This is another cookie that we'll probably make every year now.
The last cookie of the season was a new recipe, Peppermint Snowball cookies. We've made a similar cookie in the past and these weren't nearly as good as I remember those being. They had almost no peppermint flavor, due to the lack of extract in the recipe. The only peppermint flavor came from crushed up candies in the dough and outside coating. We might try this type of cookie again, but certainly not this recipe.
For Christmas morning, I wanted to make cinnamon rolls from scratch. Then I found a recipe for Red Velvet Cinnamon Rolls and those sounded very interesting and worth a shot. I'm very happy I did because they came out really great. I think they might be not only the best cinnamon rolls I've made, but also the best ones I've ever had. Normally I find them to be too sweet or too one note and get bored with them after one. With these, I had one for breakfast three days in a row. The chocolate flavor from the red velvet was subtle and they had a slight cakey-ness to them that everyone liked. It helped keep them soft even after being in the fridge. Also, look how festive they look being so red. My biggest accomplishment was nailing the cream cheese icing, that Christine said "was on par with Cinnabon's". I took that as very high praise and will be making both the recipe for the cinnamon rolls and the icing again for sure.
My mom got be a set of bread baking pans for Christmas. They're slightly smaller than the quick bread pans that I've been using all along. I wanted to try them out, so I tried a new sourdough sandwich bread recipe that turned out okay. The pan had nothing to do with the dough issues, I'm just happy that I have proper pans now.

Comments

  1. I made the pistachio / cranberry after seeing yours. They will now be in my rotation every year.

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