As a child I would always help my mom with rolling her chocolate nut balls in powdered sugar. We’d use a paper bag and shake a few balls at a time until the dark brown chocolate just peeked thru the sweet white sugar. Once I lived on my own, I made them just like mom did…until I discovered the magic of substituting spiced rum where my mother had used half -n-half. Holy cow. Good good good. Just enough kick to let you know these are RUM balls. If you are not an alcohol in your baked goods fan (I feel so sorry for you), just switch it back. An even swap – 1/2 cup of half-n-half for the spiced rum listed. They are delicious like mom used to make them too. But my way will make your Christmas gathering a little more jolly. Continue reading
My mom makes these buttery rich cookies every Christmas. For years I would watch her roll out the dough and cut it into angel and tree shapes. It is not an easy dough to work with because essentially, it is butter and ground almonds. It can get a little crumbly – especially the second and third time you roll it out. This year I decided to try a little twist on mom’s classic recipe. I rolled the dough into balls, and flattened them slightly. Same great taste – much less hassle. I kind of miss the snowy angels though. Continue reading
This is my mom’s grandmother’s recipe for Spritz. I have fantastic memories of my mom whipping out her electric cookie press and having dozens of little tree cookies all over the kitchen. They are buttery goodness at it’s finest. Make sure you beat the egg yolks well…they should be frothy and light-colored. I also sometimes have trouble with these flattening out a little (keepin it real). But I love the flavor so much that I deal with it…and, I’m the fourth generation to make these cookies. I can’t really mess with the recipe. Can I? My general solution is to press the cookies out and then refrigerate them for about a half hour before baking. Continue reading
Between making and packaging a couple hundred truffles, setting up for a luncheon, speaking at that luncheon and throwing a birthday party for my son – I haven’t had time to think lately, much less blog or bake. Wow. What a week.
I wanted to share with you all what I spoke on over the weekend at my church’s annual ladies Christmas luncheon. Here’s part 1…
God’s Gifts Are GOOD!
(and He wants to give them)
Matt 7:11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him.
We all love giving gifts to our kids. It’s just plain fun. God wants to bless us with gifts too – and His budget is limitless. But there are some things that keep us from experiencing the fullness of God’s gifts in our lives.
Keeping Up With The Joneses Continue reading
It’s a sugar cookie. No, it’s a molasses cookie. Whatever it is, it is dee-licious! I love the crinkle tops and rich flavor of these cookies! If you let them cook a little longer – they’ll get to be a nice crispy ginger snap. I prefer mine soft, so they come out when the cracks still look moist and the edges are set. For a Christmas-y version, roll dough balls in red and green decorating sugar. Continue reading
Matthew 7:11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
It is amazing to me how faithful God is. Just the other day, I was trying to remember where this verse was located. The passage came to mind as I was considering what to speak on for an upcoming luncheon – but I couldn’t remember where it was located. I thought about it again this afternoon as I was decorating the Christmas tree with my kids. Thinking about gifts as input into our lives. How much I love my kids – how much I want to teach them. The lessons I want to give to them so they don’t have to learn the hard way. And, yes – about presents. Gifts. How much fun it is to give things to them. The delight on their faces. The joy it brings them. Made a mental note to look up the reference to this verse during my devotional – but God did it for me. It was in the reading today.
It’s an awesome day today! MOPS this morning was fantastic, making up Dutch Apple Pies with my girls. Tonight I’m going to see Harry Potter at midnight. Well, actually – I’m getting in line at 7pm. Obviously I will need some snacks while waiting. I was in the mood to try something new that I could put a bag of in my purse. Wait, doesn’t everyone smuggle snacks into the movie theater? No? Just me? Hmmmm.
You may have noticed, I don’t put nuts in my baked goods. Not sure what it is, but I just don’t like eating something deliciously soft and then finding a hard nut in there. However, I adore nuts on their own merits. The grocery store nearest my home has a nut bar and I absolutely LOVE their vanilla cinnamon coated macadamia nuts. But, they are $16 a pound. Seriously? I found a recipe for candied nuts and thought I’d put my own spin on it. Voila. Eggnog Vanilla Candied Nuts. Oh goodness they are so delicious. And way less expensive than purchasing them. I got a pound of walnuts on sale at WinCo (have I mentioned how happy I am to have one nearby now?) for $3.50 and threw together this recipe. Gonna try them next with macadamia nuts. I’m sure this would be amazing with whatever nut you particularly love. Continue reading
My friend Colleen sent me the link to this recipe – and upon first sight I couldn’t wait to make it. So, I’m naming it after her. Today, I just did the recipe as it was listed in the original article in the Seattle Times Food & Wine section – except that I coated my baking pan with butter, drizzled more butter on top, and broiled it prior to taking it out of the oven to crust up the top a little. I was having a girls night with my three sisters, and brought it for dessert.
Obviously this is a fall to Christmas baked good since eggnog and cranberries are only really available around this time of year. My youngest sister said this tastes like Christmas on a spoon. I’d have to agree. It’s a moist delicious bread that tastes a little like pumpkin pie, with the richness of eggnog and the spices of the holidays. The cranberry compote it’s served with it tart and tangy, the perfect offset to the rich bread pudding. However – with the sweet tooth that runs deep in our family, my sisters and I kind of agreed that we’d rather have it with a vanilla dipping sauce/custard the next time. And, I’ll probably do up the bread pudding in individual ramekins next time for a prettier presentation.
Yesterday, I spent the day at the hospital. It was a very long day. In the morning, my pastor and his wife came down to pray with my Poppa before surgery and to be of tremendous comfort to me. Pastor Phil offered to buy me a coffee, but since I don’t drink it, I declined. Then he offered a chai latte – something I’ve never had, but know is what Phil drinks. My sister happened to have just purchased one and was standing next to me with her aromatic steaming cup in hand. As I took a sip, I realized Leslie’s (Phil’s wife) description was perfect – “like Christmas in a cup” she’d called it. It was really amazingly good. Filled with holiday spices. Mmmmm. Since I have been diagnosed with addictive food disorder (I totally just made that up), I still didn’t take Phil up on his offer. The last thing I need it to become hopelessly in love with a calorie laden beverage. However, it reminded me of a cupcake I’d seen in one of my cookbooks. Chai Latte Cupcakes. I’ve adapted the recipe, made some tweaks and have come up with what I’m going to call (love you Leslie for giving me this name) “Christmas in a Cupcake”. Today was the perfect day to try them out – because it’s Pastor Phil’s birthday!
Christmas in a Cupcake
1 1/2 C cake flour*
1/2 C unsalted butter, softened
1 C sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs, room temperature
1/2 C whole milk
1 vanilla bean
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 T instant chai tea latte mix
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake pan with baking cups
-In large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and chai latte spices. Set aside.
-In bowl of stand mixer, beat butter on high until soft, about 30 seconds.
-Add sugar and beat on high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
-Add eggs one at a time, fully incorporating after each addition.
-Add innards of vanilla bean and extract.
-Turn mixer to low and alternatively add milk and flour mixture until fully incorporated.
-Using spoon or scoop, divide batter evenly among baking cups (should fill about 3/4 full).
-Place in oven and bake for about 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center of cupcakes comes out clean.
-Remove from oven and let cool completely before icing.
*If you don’t have cake flour, make your own using the following quick substitution! The easiest way to do this substitution is to put 2 tbsp of cornstarch in the bottom of a 1-cup measuring cup, then fill the cup as usual with all-purpose flour and level top. Repeat process to get two cups of cake flour. If you only need 1/2 cup of cake flour, put 1 tbsp cornstarch in bottom of 1/2 cup measuring cup, then fill and level as above.
Frosting & Garnish
4 oz white chocolate chips
1/3 C butter, softened
4 C powdered sugar
1/4 C milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
Ground cinnamon, if desired
Using a double boiler, melt chocolate chips until smooth. Whip butter and sugar together, add milk, chocolate and vanilla and whip until fluffy. Spread frosting on cupcakes and sprinkle with cinnamon.
I think next time I make these I’ll tweak a little more and add some additional spices – some cinnamon, or maybe even pumpkin pie spice. I wasn’t sure how spicy the chai mix was going to be and didn’t want to over do it the first go round. Tasty, moist and spiced – but not quite as pungently spiced as that sip of latte I had yesterday.
Fantastic! Got a netbook from Santa today and I have high hopes that the new (adorable) pink computer will equate to many more blogs in the future. Part of my problem recently is that playing with my kiddos requires my presence in the playroom – which is a full floor away from the computer. Not very conducive to blogging. No, not at all.
I had a completely wonderful Christmas today. Enjoyed my three-year old’s excitement over her new bike, laughed at her equally thrilled expression upon opening her 4 inch tall Strawberry Shortcake doll, kept many cookies away from my little boy, indulged in a few (mmmmm Oreo Truffles) myself, watched my dad and husband play numerous games of pool, conversed with my mom in the kitchen like days of old, was showered with gifts too wonderful and plentiful while basking in the warmth of my family’s love and company. Continue reading