Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

WOW! can you believe that it is Christmas already? It feels like just yesterday that I started this blog & baked my first cookie!

My final cookie was made not by me, but by 3 of my favorite  elves....

Alison, Colleen & Kelsey

The girls made
 Reeses' Chewy Chocolate Cookies

They had a lot of fun baking together..

Their cookies came out great!!

Thanks girls!! Everyone needs some 'elf help' this time of year...

Thank you to all who have followed me through this blog. I had a blast doing it & it really reminded me of why I love Christmas so much.  I have had a laid-back attitude about Christmas this year & all of its' craziness. I wouldn't change that for the world.

Of course, this is about to bite me in the butt.. since I'm not nearly ready...

but hey, I have lots of cookies!!

I know I said that it was a month-long blog, but I think it was more of a Christmas blog. I am already thinking of recipes for next years'.

thanks again to everyone!!!

now.. to finish my shopping & start my wrapping!


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A VERY cool story that has *a little* to do with cookies....

Many of you know that for many years I have been a HUGE Springsteen fan. ( sorry, Gina)..... I've seen him many times, each time better than the last....

What does all of this have to do with cookies? .... I love to listen to the music. When I win a contest at my local radio station.. I need to go to the station to pick up the prize in person. Many years ago ( ok, 2 decades) When I went to the station for the first time, There was a very large framed poster of the upcoming release of one of his records. Yes, records.

I stared in awe & asked the receptionist how much it was.. She told me that it was not for sale. Over the years, each time I would go in to the station, I would always inquire about it & was always told the same thing. NO.

Ok.. so the cookies... a lot of people have asked me what I do with all of these cookies that I have baked.  I leave about a dozen out for my family to graze on, send a few into school with Alison for her wonderful friends & I freeze the rest.

Over the last week, I have started to put together platters to give away to friends, businesses, a few neighbors.. people that I deal with all years long as a thank-you.

One of my friends, Joe,  is a DJ  (extraodanaire.. btw)  at the station. This past weekend, hours before the blizzard hit, he was doing an on-location airing. I went to visit him to bring a platter of cookies for he & his wife.

He was there with someone else from the station. & they  were both  obviously cold.  I offered to go get them coffee  to warm up.

I returned with the coffee & joe received a phone call. I handed the coffee to the other man & introduced myself. When he told me his name I  recognized his name. I said, "you are the one with the Bruce poster!" I told him that I have admired it for years. . By this time, Joe was off the phone & told his buddy, that yes, I was in fact a HUGE fan.

His co- worker turned to me & said, "Merry Christmas, it's yours"...  I was in shock.. I thought that he was joking. He told me that it was Authentic & valuable & to please be very careful transporting it, but that he was happy to turn it over to someone who would treasure it as he had...

SO my son, daughter-in-law & I met Joe & his co-worker at the station yesterday....

and I am the VERY EXCITED owner of this framed original poster from early 1985!!!!

What does this have to do with cookies? very little.. but I am so excited that I just had to share!!!

My family & I are now discussing exactly where to put it in the house. I'm thinking the living room *grin*


aka~ barefootgirl.... yes, form one of his songs *smooch*

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Today's cookie was made by a special guest.....

My daughter-in-law, Amanda!!

She made Peanut brittle... something that I have actually never even had before....

she used this recipe

and, yes, she shelled all of the peanuts herself. It would have taken a whole lot less time if we weren't eating them as fast as she was shelling them.....

It was her first time using a candy thermometer.... She did a great job!!!

and because of our recent blizzard...

it took the brittle seconds to set up...

it really was quite easy to make... as long as you keep an eye on the temperature of the mixture....
Why have I never had this before? I have no clue... it was so tasty that it is going to be on my Christmas cookie list for years to come.


michelle & Amanda!

Monday, December 21, 2009

a very special cookie for a very special girl!

Yesterday was my annual cookie exchange.. Mother Nature gave me my long- awaited wish  of snow.. in the form of a blizzard!!

Ali & Fenway in the snow

I know that this post is being posted today, December 21. but this cookie was baked yesterday, the 20th.. and for  a very good reason...

When I was 7 months pregnant with Alison, Ryan (2 yrs old) & I  met my mom, sister and newborn niece, Alexis for lunch before  went I  to the doctor for a scheduled appointment.

The doc sent me to the hospital for some extra tests because I really wasn't feeling well. My mom took Ryan back to her house to bake gingerbread cookies.

While waiting for my tests, I went into premature labor. They tried to stop it,  but could not. I was rushed my ambulance to a neonatal unit in Boston where they prepared us for the worst. It was the scariest night of my life.

36 hours later the contractions had stopped, but I was  in the hospital for a whole week... including Christmas...

Alison was born still early, in January, but very healthy ... and she is worth every bit of what we went through...

My mom has always talked about how she & Ryan were making gingerbread men the afternoon that I called her to tell her I was being put in the ambulance... December 20, 1994.....

I've never made these cookies until this year..
Paula Deen's Recipe for Gingerbread men

I did, however, use the royal icing recipe from Emeril's sugar cookie recipe..

The gingerbread really came out nicely... really good flavor & just the perfect amount of chewiness....

That's my baby!!!!!!

and as for the cookie exchange? It was wonderful... small, but great

 A few of my friends braved the almost 2 feet of snow, and Alison's friends came and baked their own cookies!!!!.. My daughter- in- law, Amanda made an awesome recipe ( next post) ... Altogether... a great evening!


Saturday, December 19, 2009

my attempt at a classic Italian cookie....

I have been very fortunate throughout the years to have had close Italian friends who every year * smile* gave me as a gift... the classic Italian cookie... Pizzelles!!!!!

I have wanted to make these on my own for awhile.... but did not have a pizzelle maker. At the end of last year, my friend, Cheryl, lent me hers;.... I finally got around to trying to make them today.. it was interesting...

I used this recipe Italian Pizzelles

yes... to attempt this recipe you need a pizzelle maker...

I was so excited to make this! the dough came together quite well.  Then, I heated up the pizzelle iron... and attempted to make these...

so I tried again....

I  *almost* gave up..... but  I kept on trying... as my meme  ( who passed away 19 years  go today.. *miss you meme..oxxo* ) would have told me ... try, try  again...


from this WHOLE recipe... I have 7  cookies.. and I am so proud of them!! what I think is even cooler... I took a few of them & rolled them while they were warm & made home made ice-cram cones!!!!

the taste of these is amazing... and when *yeah, right* I get some free time.. I will play with the recipe a bit more.... I am French & Polish by descendant. but I have always wanted to make these cookies!!

Tomorrow is my annual  'cookie exchange'  we have, however a possible blizzard in the works... to exchange or not to exchange? that is the question....



Friday, December 18, 2009

A yummy twist on an expensive treat....

Alison & I make this every year for all of her friends, and she tells me that they love it.  It's peppermint bark!! It is so easy & so tasty I am blown away at how expensive it is to buy already made in the store....

the ingredients are simple... white chocolate discs (or bark)
                                             peppermint extract
                                             red food coloring (not pictured)
                                             assorted candy canes ( broken ones work perfect) or starlight mints

first, melt the white chocolate.. I use my microwave & melt it in 40 second intervals, stirring after each one. YOu can use the double- boiler method, or my friend, Glenda uses a mini crockpot.. all methods work, just make sure that your bowl is clean 7 DRY before adding chocolate or it will seize up into an unrecoverable globbly mess.

you can melt multiple bags at a time..

when chocolate is all melted, add peppermint extract.... about 1/2 tsp per bag ( be careful, this stuff is strong).. stir well.

pour mixture onto parchment - lined cookie sheet ( or if you ran out of parchment like I did, then use aluminum foil) & spread randomly around. Have fun.... make funky shapes..

Drop random drops of red food coloring over melted chocolate & use the tip of a knife ( or a kebab stick) to swirl the color all throughout he chocolate.... I like to swirl in all different directions.

put all of the candies ( unwrapped) in a heavy zip- lock bag & crush candies with a mallet. Sprinkle candy pieces on top of chocolate ( while still melted)

Allow chocolate to chill... this is where a negative degree day is great.. I just go to my fancy deep-freezer

my porch!!!!

When fully hardened ( today it took only minutes)

 Remove from tray & break into assorted pieces.....

This is so easy & perfect for gifting. I put pieces in clear plastic bags with fancy ribbon  and voila!!

when I get around to packaging some, I'll post a picture :)

now to decorate our tree ...


An easy make-ahead cookie....

I didn't post yesterday's cookie.... That doesn't mean that I didn't make it, I just got sidetracked & ran out of time.
I'm sure that this has happened to you *wink*

Yesterdays' cookie was one that I first read about in Gourmet magazine in 2006.  It's called Pistachio Cranberry icebox cookies

This recipe is great because you can make the dough ahead of time & bake off when you need to. The dough freezes nicely so that you really can have cookies whenever....They are sort of like a cranberry/ orange pistachio shortbread. And very yummy!

I usually divide the dough in half & use red sugars on one log & green on the other... they end up looking quite festive!

They taste even better than they look./.. I think that these are what I made for my cookies exchange last year.......


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Grandfather of Christmas Cookies...

 Today is is big sugar cookie day!!  Making sugar cookies is a commitment due to all of the steps, but when you have many elves like I did today.... it's no so bad :)

my helpers are my daughter, Alison, my daughter-in-law, Amanda, and my favorite 5-year old, my Leah!!

 We used
Emeril's Recipe for sugar cookies for both the cookie & the icing

again.. simple ingredients turn into an awesome cookie... The salt isn't in the picture.. I don't know why.

and would you just look at the trouble that Farkle got himself into....

making the dough is serious business....

 so is making sure that nothing goes to waste!!

Ali rolling out the sugar dough sometime in the late 90's!!!!!

we finally got to the fun part... decorating

  and sneaking tastes.....

just look at the creations that we made!!!




I have made Sugar cookies for years... and ATTEMPTED royal icing before.. this recipe is 5-star.... simply amazing......

and after a long cookie day.....

so sorry, Erika.... you know, about her sugar high.....

thank you for letting her join my family today!!!