Sunday, December 20, 2009

More Christmas Goodies - and recipes

I've finally finished the bulk of my holiday baking, I think. On friday the boys and I headed out to deliver a few goodie baskets to some of our friends that didn't already get one though Chris's work.

These baskets were much cuter and had the addition of some cranberry bread (the pic & recipe are below.)
I tried toffee last night when a few friends came over. Yummy!

Cranberry Bread

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup cold butter
1 egg
3/4 cup orange juice
2 tsp grated orange peel
1 cup chopped fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup golden raisins

1/3 cup packed brown sugar
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp cold butter

1/2 cup confectioners sugar
2 tsp orange juice

In a large bowl combine the first five ingredients; cut in butter until crumbly. In a small bowl, whisk the egg, orange juice and peel. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in cranberries and raisins. Transfer to a greased 8 x 4 inch loaf pan.
Combine brown sugar and flour; cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over batter. Bake at 350 for 55-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
For glaze, combine confectioners sugar and orange juice until smooth. Drizzle over bread.

I was asked for the recipe for the Merry Mocha Cookies so here you are. It came from Ladies Home Journal magazine - probably the December issue.
Merry Mocha Cookies
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp espresso powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
white nonpareil sprinkles

In a mixing bowl, beat together butter and sugar until fluffy. Stir in egg and vanilla. Add flour, cocoa powder, salt, espresso and cinnamon; blend until just combined, scraping sides of bowl as necessary.
Transfer dough to a square of parchment, form into a log 2 inches in diameter and roll tightly in parchment. Refrigerate until solid, about 1 hr, rotating every 20 min to maintain shape. (I had to freeze mine to make it hard enough to slice.)
Bake until cookies are set and there is slight resistance when you lightly touch centers, 9 to 10 min. Allow to cool completely on the parchment. Store airtight up to 1 week.
Makes 40

I am very happy with how all of my goodies turned out this year, especially since I tried several new things. Although all my goodie gifts are done, I may have to make a little extra to last my family through Christmas!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A peek inside my goodie bags

Dipped pretzels are a holiday staple for us. My mom always makes them too.

Merry Mocha cookies were a first time addition to my goodie bag. Oh. My. Goodness! I thought they were so good.

Cinnamon popcorn. I started making this last year after getting it from another blog.

Spritz cookies - so easy with a cookie press and one of hubby's favorites. The boys took turns helping with the sprinkles and being my "cookie partner".

See this?

That is 19 bags of goodies that hubby requested for work today. Now, I do enjoy baking or I wouldn't do it but it seems that each year he asks for more and more and more. 19! It really becomes less enjoyable and more stressful the night before they are "due" because I don't make much ahead of time. I want things to be fresh if we're giving them for gifts. Oh well, another year down. Now I can leisurely make a little more for our family and close friends which is what I intended all along.
I had also planned on making toffee and a cranberry bread (I usually try to include a bread item) but just didn't have time. I still might make some for the rest of us because I already bought all the ingredients.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A visit with Santa

Today our neighborhood had a visit from Santa at the clubhouse so we decided to go and see him. Last year Alex went right up to him (at the mall) and sat on his lap and Zachary had to stand several feet away. This year.....Zachary loved him some Santa and Alex wanted nothing to do with him! It was the funniest thing. Zachary was so cute! He sat on Santa's lap and talked awhile then we sat and ate some cookies. Then Zachary asked if he could go talk to Santa again, and again, and again. There were very few kids there so it wasn't a problem and Santa was so nice. Zachary just chatted away about what he wanted for Christmas, that he liked Santa's boots and had some cowboy boots of his own at home. They talked about the Christmas tree in the clubhouse, how it had a Santa on top but ours had an angel. Everybody got a kick out of him. Alex pouted on the couch far away from Santa and couldn't wait to get out of there.

This was the closest we could get Alex to Santa and it was a fight that didn't turn out well.

This was a few days ago but Zachary loves our wooden Santa at home.

Zachary likes to talk to our wooden Santa also. He's been practicing for the real thing. He tries to hug him and tells him what he wants for Christmas. Then he'll turn to me and say with a smile "He hears me!". So sweet.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas card rejects

Whew! Christmas cards are in the mail - well, most of them anyway. I tried and tried to get a good picture of the boys to include in it but you sure have to go through alot of bad ones or sorta good ones to find one you like. Here are some of the ones that didn't make the cut.
I really liked this picture with the exception of Zachary's hair. The boys had just gotten out of the bath when I took these pictures and Zachary still has wet comb marks in his hair. Why didn't I see that until after the pictures were done?!

I love how the boys put their arms around each other for this picture. I did not tell them to do that!

This next bunch is my 2nd attempt and I had to bribe the boys with candy to get them to let me take them. I thought the pajama pictures were kinda cute but Chris thinks Zachary's pj's are too little and not very cute. I will say they are a tad short but he loves them!

This one wasn't too bad but I have no idea why Zachary is pointing at me like that.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Surprise, Lisa!

Thanksgiving was more than just Thanksgiving for us this year. We threw a surprise birthday party for my older sister. She doesn't turn the big four-oh until the end of December but what better way to actually surprise her than to throw the party a month early! We did have to change the date and location at the last minute after teenage soccer tournaments changed their dates but the party was still a hit!
Random party pictures.....

A group photo. This was most of us with the exception of a few kids and a few MIA husbands, including mine.

The party hostesses with the birthday girl. My younger sister Joanne, our cousin Sara, the birthday girl Lisa, our mom Ann, and me. Joanne made the cutest shirts for us. I wish I had a picture. The front says "40 years ago.." and the back has a list of things that happened in 1969 like the first Gap opening and Sesame Street first airing and then ending with our sister being born. So cute!