Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy 2009!

We all had a very, merry Christmas.
It was also very busy. The Bozos are on vacation all week. We are spending it at home, playing with all our new toys. I will be scarce here this week...I really don't see myself cooking a thing. But, I might.
Happy New Year to all! I will see you in 2009.

Holiday Gifts

Here are a few favorite gifts I received this holiday...
a. Barefoot Contessa's NEW cookbook! I just love her cooking...it's beyond words. It was actually a pre-holiday gift from my Pop. Thanks Pop! I can't wait to cook something from it.

b. A set of organic cotton flour sack dish towels with Parsley on them! Love them! Thanks Sarah!

c. The Nintendo DS game, Cooking Mama. It is super addictive! But, I won't have much time with it, since the Bozos like it as much as I do. Santa brought this in my stocking.

d. Another great cookbook...this one is from Martha Stewart & it is a collection of all her cookie recipes from over the years. Many of which I use during the holidays. It's a paperback & has amazing color photos.
I received this from my MIL. Thanks Gammy!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Cookies

Today we finally finished the last of our cookies! I made nearly 500 this year.
The whole process can be stressful at times. But, it's a family affair. The Bozos have fun helping. DH helped out with the package assembling & lots of dirty dishes....as well as all the taste testing!

Finding the right boxes proves to be a challenge year after year. The boxes have to be the right size & depth. Something that is not always easy to come by in a craft or baking supply store.
This year, I found mine here.
I have to give them a shout out, because I love them! They have boxes, and any gift packaging you could imagine. The quality is amazing...as well as the prices.

Throw in a description of the cookies, a gift label & a bow...ready to go!
Who wouldn't love to receive a gift like this?

Almond Shortbread Stars

This is my last cookie post for the Holiday season. It is also one of first ones I ever made, and still gets included year after year. I found the recipe in the Martha Stewart Living magazine special issue, titled *Holiday Cookies*, published in 2001.
A few reasons I make them every year....I love the festive look of these little white powder coated stars. The almond flavor is delicious. They are super easy to make & can be made ahead of time! Something essential while baking as many cookies as I do.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Rum Balls

These are probably my most requested Christmas cookie (if you can call it a cookie). They are made with dark rum & have a very strong alcohol flavor. So, they are definitely not for kids!
I found the recipe in the December 2003 issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine. But, it can also be found on her website.
Rolling out all the balls can be quite time consuming. But, other than that, they are super easy.
This recipe makes about 4 dozen.
You will need a 12" x 17" rimmed baking sheet. This is pretty essential, as the amount of batter is based on this size pan. It's a standard size & should be easy to find.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hawaiian Wedding Cookies

I usually include Mexican Wedding Cookies in my Christmas baking repertoire. They are also known as Italian Wedding cookies, butterballs, or Russian Tea Cakes. The traditional recipe is made with almonds, or sometimes pecans, and vanilla.
This year, I decided to try a new spin on the classic. These have the exact same texture & buttery, shortbread taste. But, they are made with macadamia nuts, toasted coconut and lime. I found the recipe in Cuisine at Home magazine.
The recipe makes about 5 dozen cookies.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Spiced Cardamom Snowflake Cookies

Spiced Cardamom Snowflake Cookies
I love ginger snap cookies and I love animal crackers. So, when I read that this cookie was like a mix of the two, I knew I would love it.
The recipe is from the November 2008 issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine, but it's also been featured in her Holiday Cookies special editions as well. In the magazine, they're decorated with a faux-bois {fake wood} pattern by imprinting the dough using a rubber mat. But when I made mine I didn't have the time to order special equipment online, so I just stuck with simple cut-out cookies...more specifically, snowflakes. Although they're a bit plainer looking, they looked perfect in a box alongside other heavily decorated holiday cookies, so I was happy I kept it simple.
Dry Ingredients
Begin by cutting 8 ounces {2 sticks} of unsalted butter into chunks. Add them to the bowl of a stand-mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, and set aside to warm up to room temperature while you prepare the other ingredients. While you're at it, you'll also need 1 large egg and a 1/4 cup of heavy cream brought up to room temperature.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 5 3/4 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt, 1 tablespoon ground cardamom, 1 teaspoon ground allspice, 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, and set aside.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Open it!

Few things make me more mental than trying to get toys out of their packaging on Christmas morning. Why do they have to make it so freaking difficult?
This tool is at the top of my stocking stuffer wish list!
It slices & cuts through anything...and even has a screwdriver & box cutter.
You listening, Santa?

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Tree

This year my children are finally at the age when all I had to do was has hang the lights & garland and they did the rest.

A llama from Brazil.

Capiz shell star garland. I love this.

Tree Chopping

Yesterday was our 3rd annual *Tree Trimming* Party. We call it a Tree Trimming because originally we planned on going to cut down our own tree with some close friends & family. Then return back to our house for some spiked cider & grub...where we would decorate the tree.
But, so far that has not happened. We barely managed to get the tree in the stand last night...Let alone decorate it.
So, as of next year, it's a *Tree Chopping* Party!

We go to Maple Row Tree Farm, in Easton, CT.
We lucked out with snow this year!

Tree Chopping over &

Party Time!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Return Address Stamps

I have one of these & love it!! I am especially thrilled to own one now that I am addressing Christmas cards! The site has links to online retailers that carry them...along with really cute gift certificates.
A great holiday gift.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Cherry & Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

The holiday cookie craziness is beginning. I always make a few hundred, or maybe thousand cookies every December for friends, neighbors, and teachers. I will be trying out some new recipes this year. This is the first one. I found it in Cuisine at Home magazine. The recipe makes 2 dozen cookies, but can easily be doubled.