Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Holiday Baking List.

Last year my family & I helped put together a bunch of fancy Christmas cookie trays to take to the elderly and widowed people in their church. What you see above is only about half of the 35 dozen cookies we made in five days. 

And we're doing it again. 

On top of that... it's no secret I love to bake and this is one of my favorite times of the year to do it. If you show up on my doorstep, I will probably give you cookies. If you're my friend, I'm probably making them for you for Christmas. If I'm dating you, go away! I'm always making you cookies. If you invite me somewhere, yeah. Cookie trays are going to follow. 

I'm kind of scared of this list. 

Peanut butter cup treats- I ate these for breakfast all of last December. Love.

Raspberry almond thumbprint cookies- my all-time favorite Christmas cookie.

Mexican wedding cakes- a classic.

Decorated sugar cookies- my favorite part of making these the decorating. One word: sprinkles.

Peanut butter blossoms- another classic.
Chocolate almond cracker candy- made three or four batches of this last year. They were a HUGE hit. 

Cranberry-orange sugar cookie sandwiches- a favorite I haven't made in a few years. Definitely not because I ate a huge plate of them a few New Year's Eves ago...

Fluffernutter chocolate gobs- my new favorite cookie recipe from 2011.

Salt river bars- perfect for cookie trays.

Peanut butter balls- bite-sized peanut butter-Rice Krispie-chocolatey things.

White chocolate raspberry cheesecake cookies- another favorite from 2011.

Chocolate-covered buttercream cherries- these take a bit of prep work, planning, and patience but are so worth it.

Graham cracker s'mores candy- this stuff is dangerously addicting. I might even festive it up a bit with some mini Christmas M&Ms.  
Gingersnaps and snickerdoodles- more Christmas classics. I make both of these every year.

Some kind of Christmas bark- peppermint? Toffee pretzel? Chocolate chip cookie? Undecided.

Homemade Twix- similar to the salt river bars, but not.

White chocolate mocha cookies- I really want to add peppermint chips to these.

Cinnamon streusel pecan coffee cake- coffee cake and Christmas. It's like a thing.
Cinnamon pinwheels with maple-coffee icing- fancy, but without all the work. Love.

What am I missing? What's on your list this year?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving Moments & Apple Butter Pumpkin Pie.

Thanksgiving in our family of three goes a little like this: bake all week and decorate all day. It's a pretty relaxing, no-stress thing, unless we can't agree on only one pie everyone wants (we never can) or you manage to break the twisty top thingy off the whipped cream and are forced to either brave the lines at the grocery store or eat naked pie.

Not that that's ever happened. 

There's light-hanging.
Sorry, Dad.

Finally some stormy, wintry weather. 
(And a rainbow! But you can barely see it in this picture.)

Tree decorating and glittery things. 
House decorating and Christmas magic.
Try not to giggle, I dare you.
Peanut butter blossoms and chocolate fudge.
Christmas movies and food comas.
And pumpkin pie! 
Usually we make a pumpkin pudding pie, but this year we switched it up and made an apple butter pumpkin pie. It tasted like pure autumn... slightly sweet and fruity from the apple butter, but still having that traditional pumpkin pie flavor everyone loves. Can you believe this is the first pie I've ever made? It happens. 

Andddd I forgot to take pictures in between baking it and sneaking slices at midnight. That also happens. This is the last slice and that makes me sad. 

P.S. Beauty & the Beast comes back to theaters January 13th. I'm just saying.
Apple Butter Pumpkin Pie

1 cup apple butter
1 cup fresh or canned pumpkin
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
3 eggs
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell
Sweetened whipped cream and praline pecans, for garnish

Preheat oven to 425°F. Place unbaked pie shell on a foil-lined baking sheet and set aside.

Combine apple butter, pumpkin, sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger in a bowl. Stir in eggs.

Gradually add evaporated milk and mix well. Pour into pie shell. 

Bake for about 40 minutes or until set (I had to bake mine an extra 15 minutes).

If the crust begins to burn, place tin foil around the crust and lower the temperature of the oven.

Serve with sweetened whipped cream, sprinkle with praline pecans, and enjoy!

Source: Paula Deen.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Eve.

It's the end of November. It's raining. Breaking Dawn is in theaters and there's a turkey in our kitchen.

... you know what I mean.

There's red cups at Starbucks and peppermint syrup in my coffee. Our Christmas tree is up. Mostly.
(P.S. My mom made this garland out of ribbons. Isn't she fancy?) 

There's a tiny silver Christmas tree on the corner of my desk, cinnamon things baking, and popcorn-hot chocolate dinners? I'm serious. It's a thing. 
And, okay, there's still baby pumpkins on my dresser.

Eight of them.

That my best friend left on my doorstep when life was especially upside down.
And my ever-growing list of Things To Bake Immediately (<-- no really. This is real life. I have a list.) mostly involves pumpkin spice and things shaped like ghosts... not cranberry sauce and cornbread stuffing.

But it's okay because I already picked out my Christmas ornament for 2011.
Pier 1. Sparkly things. Do it.

So even though I disappeared for most of October/November (I had a medical exam, a fitness exam, and a psychological exam for a job I'm waiting/holding my breath *right now* to hear from... three separate trips to the San Francisco area, one of which left me stranded for a week with my boyfriend when they told me I needed to come back a few days later, even though I'd only packed one change of clothes... and absolutely no shampoo or make-up.

It was like camping. Only with showers, comfy beds, and Starbucks.

Oh and I had a relationship meltdown. No big deal.) 

And even though life can get stressful and it's the day before Thanksgiving and all I have for you is a picture of a classy turkey I drew when I was younger... I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for reading, commenting, supporting, and inspiring me... and reminding me daily why I love doing this. Seriously. You're the best. 

Enjoy your day. Spend time with people you love and eat lots of pumpkin pie. I'll be back soon with butter and sugar. And probably some twinkle lights...

Happy Thanksgiving!