My mother collects Christmas tree ornaments. She puts about five ornaments on each single twig of the tree (I kid you not), and the overall effect is slightly overwhelming but very beautiful and festive. Over the years, I have been given a few ornaments for Christmas, so that my own tree looks quite nice, too. I don’t receive the very best ornaments, but sometimes she finds more than one of a sort at some flea market or Christmas fair, and then she passes it to me. Or I have liked one so very much that she found it in her heart to part with it. (She is a true collector, and doesn’t part with her treasures easily.) Here are some of my ornaments that I really like: (more…)
Archive for December, 2012
It was 10 long years before I found them again, and color me shocked that it was my Mom’s best friend who was making them. I all but cried! She told me they are called Maid of Honors and every few years a small tin shows up at Christmas and I am delighted all over again. Sadly, every few years is a long time for my memory so I would ask her if she was going to bake any Maid Marians and there would be much laughter. My mother decided a few years ago that she was jealous of this tin that would show up every once in a while and insisted she get a taste of these special bars. To this day, she says she never made them but she was also overly delighted by these scrumptious squares, and now I’m pretty sure that any tin that has been making its way to me has been waylaid by my mother. (more…)
Years ago, in holidays past, I enjoyed cooking. Now, four kids and a two decades later, it’s not my thing. In fact, I go to great lengths to avoid actually making food. My family survives on grocery pre-made goodies, a host of frozen main dishes from Trader Joe’s, and their wits. So, when the AAR staff decided to share their favorite holiday cookie recipes, I was sure I’d have nothing to contribute. But, as Blythe pointed out, I’m probably not the only non-cooker in our readership. And, upon occasion, even those of us who avoid the kitchen do have to produce “home made” baked goods.
So, for those whom home-made treats are something other people do, here are few easy short cuts.
1) Buy slice and bake gingerbread cookies, roll them into little balls and dunk them into colored sugar. Cook them for 2/3 the time on the label. They’ll be soft, sweet, and mildly festive.
2) Make boxed brownies but add a bag of chocolate fudge pudding, a cup of chocolate chips, and a teaspoon of vanilla to the mixture. Bake according to what it says on the box. Let cool completely before cutting. You’ll have deeply fudgy brownies the chocoholics in your life will love.
3) Dump a bag of frozen berries into a rectangular baking pan. Add in a package of vanilla pudding and a teaspoon of vanilla. Mix thoroughly. In another bowl, melt a stick of butter. Add a cup of granola, a cup of quick oats, and a cup of brown sugar. Mix together and put on top of berry mixture. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice-cream and tell your kids it’s a “healthy” dessert because it has fruit and fiber.
4) Get to know the best frozen desserts at your grocery store. I–and my family–will vouch for almost anything in the Trader Joe’s cake and pie section. In fact, it’s hard to beat TJ’s frozen New York Cheesecake (the one in the blue box) or their Chocolate Ganache Torte. Both vanish the minute I put them on our kitchen counter.
5) Instead of bringing baked goods to the party, show up with a good but inexpensive bottle of bubbly. Your hosts won’t mind a bit!
I love to make cookies, and am a big fan of Christmas traditions, so December is a month-long cookie spree for me. There are cookies that I make without fail every year (Russian teacakes, sugar cookies, LinnieGayl’s peanut blossoms, and thumbprint cookies), and some we make every few years. I also like to try a new Christmas recipe every year (usually from the December Good Housekeeping). This year’s new cookie, Christmas macaroons, was a huge, fat failure that we will not be trying again..ever! Angeletti is one of our successes. They look festive (and almost deceptively fancy – they really are easy to make). They are also delicious - they almost taste like tiny donuts. (more…)
See? The best recipes are third-hand. – Jean AAR
Here is a recipe that someone brought to work last year – she brought the finished product and was generous enough to share the recipe when everyone asked for it. Enjoy!
- Bessie Makris
1 and 1/2 cups of flour
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon margarine
2 cups mixed salted nuts (you can use lightly salted if you want)
6 ounces butterscotch chips
1/2 cup of light corn syrup
Mix flour, brown sugar, and 1/2 cup margarine for the crust. Press
into a greased 9 X 13 pan. Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool
After crust is cool, layer mixed nuts over it. Melt butterscotch
chips, syrup, and remaining margarine and pour over top of the nuts.
Bake 10 minutes at 350 degrees.
Cool completely before cutting. These freeze well.
Editor’s note: So on the one hand, I was glad to finally put a name to a cookie that I adore instead of calling it “that thick soft gingery one that’s like a snickerdoodle but not.” Good news there. But on the other hand, I swear to God this is one of the worst cookie names on the planet. Look at the title of the blog: Heather’s Lumberjacks. Brings to mind all manner of sin. And you want to know the story behind the name? I haven’t the foggiest, even after a google, but considering the cookie is a soft, spicy, yummy confection, you could pretty much insert any manner of dirty joke you want. (Which I did. Of course.) Luckily, the cookie will still be delicious, and like Heather, I think making these will have to go on the agenda this weekend. Thanks Heather! (more…)