Sunday, December 26, 2010

Santa? Did you bring me a pony?

Merry Christmas everyone! Hope it was a great one filled with family and friends. We got to open stockings and presents under our first tree. Santa brought me a lot of Disney things, including two new Disney cookbooks!

We got to spend time at both parents' houses and ate way too much: roast beef, turkey,ham, loaded potatoes, corn pudding, etc. The corn pudding was a new side dish I decided to try. Not only did it make the house smell amazing when cooking it, but it also tasted amazing.

I also made a Santa bread for each house. I think in the future I might try different flavors, but the traditional white bread worked out well.

Golden Santa Bread
Oven 350

Premade pizza dough or frozen bread dough
2 raisins
2 egg yolks
2 to 3 drops red food coloring

Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide into two portions, one slightly larger than the other.Shape the larger portion into an elongated triangle with rounded corners for Santa's head and hat.

Divide the smaller portion in half. Shape and flatten one half into a beard. Using scissors or a pizza cutter, cut into strips to within 1 in. of top. Position on Santa's face; twist and curl strips if desired.

Use the remaining dough for the mustache, nose, hat pom-pom and brim. Shape a portion of dough into a mustache; flatten and cut the ends into small strips with scissors. Place above beard. Place a small ball above mustache for nose. Fold tip of hat over and add another ball for pom-pom. Roll out a narrow piece of dough to create a hat brim; position under hat.

In separate small bowls, beat egg each yolk. Add red food coloring to one yolk; carefully brush over hat, nose and cheeks.

With a scissors, cut two slits for eyes; insert raisins into slits.

Brush plain yolk over remaining dough.

Cover loosely with foil. Bake for 15 minutes. Uncover; bake 10-12 minutes longer or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


My week did not go as planned. I had plans to meet Kate and Dave at a new Thai restaurant on Friday and was just about at the highway exit when...WHAM?!?!?!?
My back car window flew open, my sunglasses, gps, and anything not tied down went flying, and all I could hear was the rush of cars going by with speeds 65mph and over. I looked back and saw a totaled SUV and two girls running across the highway. I somehow drove to the side and stopped the car. I couldn't tell what the damage was, and I was shaking as I dialed 911. I didn't get out of the car, I've never been in such shock in my life.

When the trooper got there he said my car was drivable and that I was lucky. My wonderful husband got a ride from work and was there to drive me home. I was upset at what happened to the car ( it will need a new bumper, the frame is very bent, and a bunch of other things are scratched and dented). However, the important thing was that I was okay. On Saturday, I went to an emergency room because my neck and shoulders hurt so much. They gave me some pain killers and said to take it easy. My husband just keeps telling me "This is what we have insurance for." Thank goodness!

My baked good today is quick and requires minimal work. I am taking it easy, after all.

Coffee-Cocoa Cake
from SweetCakes No.31

Oven 350

10 tblsps very soft unsalted butter
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp table salt
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tblsps unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups good-quality brewed coffee, cooled to warm

Generously spray 9-inch-square baking dish with cooking spray. Cream butter and sugar until smooth, about 1 minute.

Blend in eggs one at a time, mixing just until incorporated, about 20 seconds. Mix in the vanilla and salt. Sift flour, cocoa, baking soda, and baking powder. Add to batter.

Pour in the coffee (we had leftover hazelnut coffee, so that's what I used).

Gently whisk the ingredients until the ingredients until the mixture is smooth and mostly free of lumps.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly with a rubber spatula.

Bake until a skewer comes out clean, 40 to 43 minutes. Set the pan on a rack to cool for 20 minutes. Carefully run a knife around the edges of the pan, invert the cake onto the rack, and remove from pan.

Serve immediately or wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Not for rent...

Our tree is all decorated and it smells wonderful. The whole house smells like Christmas.

That could also be because I've been baking up a storm (gingerbread men, snickerdoodle biscotti, chocolate chip cookies, white chocolate peppermint biscotti, and palmiers). My in-laws had their annual open house Christmas party complete with carolers and great passed hor-d'oeuvres ( I have to try and make those bacon wrapped dates sometime, yum!). It was so nice to see so many of our friends and family and catch up.

A recurring story of the night was our adventures in house renting. Our house has been a part of a scam on craigslist. We first learned about it when a lady came by on Halloween and asked to see the house. We explained that the house was not for rent and quickly called our landlord, who had the ad removed. A few days after Thanksgiving we had two people stop by inquiring about the house and saying that the craigslist add was back up. We had it removed, again.

Last weekend, my husband and I came home to find a note on our door asking that we call a lady asap. About two minutes after reading the note the lady pulled in the driveway and asked if we were renting the house. My husband explained that the craigslist ad was a scam to which this lady started using some choice words. It turns out that she had sent $960 to West Africa with the promise of keys to our house, that day. I felt bad that she had been so gullible. Who sends money for a house you have never seen the inside of? I also felt bad that they had sent her a fake "family" picture that she thought was real. Watch out for scams on craigslist!

I know I have already posted about biscotti, but the new recipe I found was a lot easier, better for you, and seems to be pretty adaptable. I made it plain and then dipped some in white chocolate and peppermint.

Snickerdoodle Biscotti
from Cooking Light November 2000
Oven 350

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
cooking spray
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 large egg white

Measure flour into a large bowl using the scoop and level method. Add sugar, baking powder, and salt.

Mix oil, vanilla, and whole eggs in a small bowl and add to the large bowl, your dough will be dry and quite crumbly.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead 7 or 8 times. Divide in half.

Shape each portion into a roll about 8 inches long, and place them six or so inches apart on a sprayed cookie sheet. Flatten each roll to 1 inch thick.

Combine the 2 tablespoons Sugar and cinnamon, then gently brush the tops of the rolls with the egg white and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
Remove from the sheet and cool for 15 minutes.
Cut diagonally into 1/2 inch slices and lay them cut sides down on the cookie sheet again.

Reduce oven temp to 325 and then bake 10 more minutes, turn over and bake 10 more. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like....

Christmas decorations are up and we're hoping to get our first real Christmas tree today! We had a fake tree in the apartment, it was easier and we were never there for Christmas. This year will also be the first year that my husband and I wake up Christmas morning at our own house. We've always had to travel Christmas eve and stay at a family members house. We have our stockings hung and we'll be decorating the tree soon.
This week we celebrated my Dad's birthday. He recently purchased a kayak so his presents revolved around that. We celebrated with a family dinner and Hot Chocolate Cupcakes for dessert (future blog posting). I had a great time and I hope he did, too.

Gingerbread Cupcakes
from Family Circle Magazine December 2010
Makes 12 cupcakes
Oven 350

1/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup boiling water
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspooon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs

Spary muffin pan or use baking liners(makes 12 cupcakes). Blend molasses, water, and baking soda in a small bowl; this will bubble.

Mix flour, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt in another bowl.

Beat butter and sugar in large bowl, 2 minutes.

Beat in eggs. Stir in flour mixture and molasses mixture, beginning and ending with flour.

Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for 22 minutes. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

To make the icing blend together 2 cups confectioners' sugar and 3 tablespoons water. Dip cupcakes into icing and let harden before serving.