Saturday, November 28, 2009

How was your Thanksgiving? Still eating leftovers? One of the advantages of a large family is that even HUGE amounts of holiday leftovers get scarffed down pretty quickly! LOL

We have spent a good amount of time this holiday, playing on our wii fit. It is an amazing thing!
I have hoola hooped and stepped until my feet hurt. I wonder if this really does anything besides inspiring family competition? Today I think I'll get Gillian to show me the yoga!
Our Joey Po came home for Thanksgiving. I miss having him around the house, so it was good to see him here. I only wish he could have stayed longer. But, he's a workin' man now and had to be at ONE of his jobs at 6 a.m. on Friday!

After running a couple of errands yesterday Gillian and I came home and set up the Christmas tree and decorated the house. Today I mail the Christmas Cards out and OH! I am set for the Christmas Holidays! Bring it on baby! This year I am going to relax and enjoy myself instead of fussing and worrying about what needs doing! Yeppers, it took damn near 50 years but I finally got it together for the Holiday Season! Woo Hoo!

Next up...Christmas baking. That is one thing I haven't begun yet, but plan to sit down with the kids and decide what is on the menu this year! I know we will make shortbread cookies. this recipe is a good one. I brush the top of my shortbreads with egg whites before baking. Also, these cookies are best when completely cooled.

2 cups butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
Cream butter and brown sugar. Add 3 to 3 3/4 cups flour. Mix well.
Sprinkle board with the remaining flour. Knead for 5 minutes, adding enough flour to make a soft dough. Roll to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut into 3x1 inch strips. Prick with fork and place on ungreased baking sheets.
Bake at 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) for 20 to 25 minutes.

My personal favorite Christmas treat is home made truffles: Really easy to make and so delicious!

Chocolate Truffles Recipe

Basic truffle ingredients
8 ounces of semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate (high quality, 62% cacao or higher), well chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Optional base flavorings:
Mint leaves (1 bunch, stems removed, chopped, about 1 cup)
Cinnamon and cardamon (1 cinnamon stick, 2 cardamom pods)
Amaretto (1-2 tablespoons)
Almond extract (1 teaspoon)
Truffle coatings
Cocoa powder
Finely chopped walnuts
Finely chopped almonds
1 In a small, heavy saucepan bring the heavy whipping cream to a simmer (this may take a while, be sure to stir and scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula every few minutes).
If you are using one of the other recommended flavorings, stir it in with the cream (and ignore vanilla in the next step). If adding mint or other solids, after the cream simmers, remove from heat and let seep for an hour. Then strain away solids, and return the cream to a simmer and proceed with recipe.
2 Place the chocolate in a separate bowl. Pour the cream over the chocolate, add the vanilla, and allow to stand for a few minutes then stir until smooth. (This chocolate base is called ganache.)
3 Allow to cool, then place in the refrigerator for two hours. Remove and with a teaspoon roll out balls of the ganache. Roll in your hands quickly (as it will melt from the heat of your hands) and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place in the refrigerator overnight.
4 Roll in cocoa powder or chopped nuts and serve, or place back in the refrigerator until needed.
Makes 30-40 chocolate truffles

These are pretty cookies and the kids love them. I have never used Jolly Rancher candy. I always prefer Life Savers...the regular kind.

Stained Glass Cookies Recipe

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
30-40 hard candies (such as Life Savers), preferably in several flavors/colors
1 Pre-heat oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat.
2 In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugars until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add molasses and vanilla extract, mixing until incorporated. Add egg and mix until light and smooth, about 1 minute on medium speed.
3 Sift together flour, salt, and baking powder. Fold dry ingredients into wet mixture. Use electric mixer to blend just until flour is incorporated. Divide dough in half and flatten into two disks. Wrap disks in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least an hour and up to 2 days.
4 Remove any wrappers on candies and separate them by color into plastic bags. Using a mallet to crush candies.

5 Place one disk between two large sheets of waxed paper and roll to 1/4-inch thickness. Use cookie cutters to cut dough into desired shapes. Transfer cookies to prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Using a smaller cookie cutter or a knife, cut shapes into centers of cookies, reserving these center bits to add into extra dough.

6 Use a spoon to sprinkle the crushed candy into the hollowed-out centers of the cookies, filling to the edges. Try to keep the candy within the centers. Any candy specks that fall on the cookie will color the cookie.
7 If cookies will be hung as ornaments or decorations, poke a small hole in the top of each cookie before baking.
8 Bake 9 to 10 minutes. The candy should be melted and bubbling and the cookies just barely beginning to brown. Remove baking sheets from oven and place on wire racks to cool. Allow cookies to cool on pans at least 10 minutes; otherwise, the candy centers may separate from the dough. When cookies are completely cooled, remove and store in an airtight container. String with ribbon if you want to hang as an ornament.
Makes 2 to 4 dozen cookies, depending on how large you make them.

If you have any other great cookie or candy recipes I'd love to hear them! I have several taste tester ready to get to work!


Nancy said...

Glad you had a good Thanksgiving and you are well ahead with your decorations. I had a very hard time reading the red writing but your truffles look yummy.

Paula said...

Your house looks Holiday Gorgeous! I love that your already done decorating and sending out your cards. Go girl!
Just ate the last piece of pumpkin pie, now time to work on the pecan...

Your cookie recipe's look incredible. Might have to add that shortbread one to my holiday baking. Thanks!

Terri said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Terri said...

Nancy, I saw your point and changed the font color. Thank you!

Paula, No kidding leave those shortbread cookies for a week and they are unbelievable!

Gena said...

Terri,I just have to make those chocolate truffles!they look wonderful!xx

Kerri said...

Glad you had such a happy Thanksgiving, Terri.
You're way ahead of me with your Christmas preparations!
I always make shortbread too. Our lovely Scottish next-door neighbor got me hooked on it when I was a young teen. I used to go over to her house and she'd teach me to bake her favorite treats.
Sounds like you'll enjoy the November activities :)