Holiday


So this year I didn’t make enough Jam to give hordes away like I did last year.  However, I did can a few things that would make great gifts:

Didn’t can anything this year?  That’s OK–let someone else do it.  Run down to the store, pick out a jar of jam that has a pretty container (Trader Joe’s has a few), and bake up a loaf of bread, or some biscuits (pictured above), or some scones and you’re set!  Now you get to keep those cookies for yourself, gain 5 pounds, and feel like the holidays are just what they should be.  Did the sudden talk of Christmas cookies make you salivate?  Stay tuned for posts from this year’s Christmas Cookie Day.

Grab your favorite Ball jar, velum bag, or cute mug, because this gift is sure to warm everyone up.  Make a large batch of my Hot Coco Mix with Martha Stewart’s Peppermint Marshmallows and you have a wonderful seasonal gift to bring to your Christmas party host or that neighbor that always picks up your mail when you’re out of town.  Don’t let the Martha-name-drop scare you either.  These fluffy treats are really pretty easy.

Nonstick cooking spray
3 (1/4-ounce) packages unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
Confectioners’ sugar, sifted, for coating

  1. Lightly spray a 9-by-9-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Line pan with plastic wrap, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water; let stand for 10 minutes. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, and 1/4 cup water. Place saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil; boil rapidly for 1 minute. Remove from heat, and, with the mixer on high, slowly pour the boiling syrup down the side of the mixer bowl into gelatin mixture. Add salt and continue mixing for 12 minutes.
  3. Add peppermint extract and mix until well combined. Spray a rubber spatula or your hands with cooking spray. Spread gelatin mixture evenly into pan using prepared spatula or your hands. Spray a sheet of plastic wrap with cooking spray and place, spray side down, on top of marshmallows. Let stand for 2 hours.
  4. Carefully remove marshmallows from pan. Remove all plastic wrap and discard. Cut marshmallows into 2-inch squares using a sprayed a sharp knife. Place confectioners’ sugar in a large bowl. Working in batches, add marshmallows to bowl and toss to coat. Marshmallows can be stored in an airtight container up to 3 days.

pumpkin cheesecake

This is the last of the Baby Shower recipes.  And by the way, I always save the best for last.  It’s just who I am.  So if you find yourself sitting across the table from me at dinner, don’t even think about grabbing the last bite off the plate, especially if it’s Pumpkin Cheesecake.  Never tried it?  Think it sounds weird?  Then you’re in for a treat.  Pretty soon you’ll be guarding your last bites too.  I hope you enjoy.

Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups ground gingersnap cookies
  • 1 1/2 cups toasted pecans (about 6 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Filling

  • 4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups canned solid pack pumpkin
  • 9 tablespoons whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon (about) purchased caramel sauce
  • 1 cup sour cream

For Crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Finely grind ground cookies, pecans and sugar in processor. Add melted butter and blend until combined. Press crust mixture onto bottom and up sides of 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides.

For Filling:
Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until light. Transfer 3/4 cup mixture to small bowl; cover tightly and refrigerate to use for topping. Add pumpkin, 4 tablespoons whipping cream, ground cinnamon and ground allspice to mixture in large bowl and beat until well combined. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating just until combined. Pour filling into crust (filling will almost fill pan). Bake until cheesecake puffs, top browns and center moves only slightly when pan is shaken, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Transfer cheesecake to rack and cool 10 minutes. Run small sharp knife around cake pan sides to loosen cheesecake. Cool. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.

Bring remaining 3/4 cup cream cheese mixture to room temperature. Add remaining 5 tablespoons whipping cream and sour cream to cream cheese mixture and stir to combine. Press down firmly on edges of cheesecake to even thickness. Pour cream cheese mixture over cheesecake, spreading evenly. Spoon caramel sauce in lines over cream cheese mixture. Using tip of knife, swirl caramel sauce into cream cheese mixture. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Release pan sides from cheesecake. Spoon sour cream into pastry bag fitted with small star tip (do not stir before using). Pipe decorative border around cheesecake and serve.

(from Epicurious.com)

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“Each year, the Great Pumpkin rises out of the pumpkin patch that he thinks is the most sincere. He’s gotta pick this one. He’s got to. I don’t see how a pumpkin patch can be more sincere than this one. You can look around and there’s not a sign of hypocrisy. Nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see.”
-Linus, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

I’m not sure how kindly The Great Pumpkin would take to my scooping the guts out of his relatives and cooking them up to my delight—but you should.  Pumpkin muffins, pumpkin soup, roasted pumpkin with garlic, pumpkin bread, oh my word…the possibilities.  Every year I tell myself that pumpkin is special and should be savored only in Autumn, when it’s ripe and beautiful and festive.  Aaaaaand every year I bite my nails in anticipation of the first day of fall.  You may not be breaking out your scarves yet, but you should break out the pumpkin.  So make yourself some pancakes, coffee, and pretend it’s cold outside.  Don’t worry, The Great Pumpkin will never know.

  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 cup canned pure pumpkin
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Vegetable oil
  • Maple syrup
    Applesauce
    Cinnamon

Whisk first 5 ingredients in large bowl to blend. Whisk milk, pumpkin, egg yolks, melted butter and vanilla in medium bowl to blend well. Add pumpkin mixture to dry ingredients; whisk just until smooth (batter will be thick). Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in another medium bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold whites into batter in 2 additions. Brush large nonstick skillet with oil; heat over medium heat. Working in batches, pour batter by 1/3 cupfuls into skillet. Cook until bubbles form on surface of pancakes and bottoms are brown, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining batter, brushing skillet with oil between batches. Just before serving, heat syrup with a few heaping spoonfuls of applesauce and about half a tsp of cinnamon (if applesauce does not already contain).  Serve over pancakes.

(adapted from Epicurious.com)

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One of my favorite things in Chicago was this little Irish Pub that made the best Bailey’s Cheesecake you’ve ever had.  Now that we’re back in Cali, we’re loving the sun, but missing ourselves some Bailey’s love.  For Saint Patrick’s Day this year I thought I would try to find a recipe to contend with my long lost treat.  From Leslie on Recipezaar, this cheesecake is pretty amazing:

Crust

1/2 cup toasted pecans, cooled and crushed
2 cups chocolate Oreo cookie crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons melted butter

Filling

2 1/4 lbs cream cheese, at room temp
1 2/3 cups sugar
5 eggs, at room temp
1 cup baileys original irish cream
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Coffee Cream Topping

1 cup chilled whipping cream
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon instant coffee powder
chocolate curls or Skor English toffee bit, for decoration on top

Crust:.
Mix all ingredients.
Press into a 10″ spring form pan and up the sides one inch.
Bake at 325 for 7-10 minute.
Filling:.
Beat cream cheese with electric mixer until smooth.
Beat sugar in gradually, and then add eggs one at a time.
Blend in Bailey’s and vanilla.
Sprinkle half of chocolate chips over crust.
Spoon in filling.
Sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips.
Bake at 325 degrees approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes or until puffed, springy in center and golden brown. Place a pan of water on bottom rack of oven while baking to keep it moist.
Cool cake completely.
Coffee Cream Topping:.
Beat all ingredients and spread over cooled cake.
Top with chocolate curls or Skor bits.
*NOTE: Be sure to make and refrigerate at least one day before serving.
If you have any leftover, little ramekins are a great way to have an individual treat.  Just stick a whole Oreo down in the bottom before you pour the cream cheese mixture over.
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This is probably the most unique recipe that we use on cookie baking day.  It is a soft, almost cake-like,  molasses cookie that after a quick cool from the oven gets a slap of luscious frosting smeared on it.  Lovely.  The recipe is said to have been the brain child of my great grandma on my Father’s side.  It seems as though so many cookies during the holidays are the same 5 recipes that have been passed from person to person, but not this one.

1 C. Sugar

1/2 C. Veg. Oil

1 Egg

3/4 C. Molasses

1 tsp. Cinnamon

1/2 tsp. Cloves

1/2 tsp. Ginger

pinch of salt

1 C. warm water

2 tsp. Baking Soda

3 1/2 C. Flour

Frosting:

2 1/2 C. powdered sugar

1/4 C butter, softened

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp orange zest

enough milk to make thick frosting consistency

Combine sugar, oil, egg, molasses, and spices.  IN A SEPARATE bowl, mix baking soda and water and stir till dissolved.  Add to first mixture.  Then add flour and mix thoroughly.  Let batter sit 20 min and then drop by large spoon-fulls (or a pancake batter dispenser if you have one) onto a greased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 F for 12-15 min.  Let cool before frosting.

For frosting: beat sugar and butter till creamy.  Add vanilla, zest and a few tablespoons of milk until desired consistency.  ** If you like a well frosted cookie, you may wish to double the batch of frosting.

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Our family friend, Ammie, gave us this recipe years ago.  It’s buttery, nutty, full of chocolate, and breaks easily (to save you from a holiday trip to the dentist with cracked crowns).  It’s so good that every year we’ve made it, we’ve exponentially increased the number of batches we make.  A welcome FIFTH installment to cookie day.

2 cups sugar

1 lb. butter (real)

2 t. vanilla

chocolate chips

chopped toasted almonds

Grease the bottom of a cookie sheet lined with tin foil.  Spread the chocolate chips and almonds over the foil evenly (depending on your taste, you might like more or less.  Typically we use about 2 cups each).  In a heavy large sauce pot, cook the butter, sugar, and vanilla over med-high heat, stirring constantly.  After 5 min, turn heat down to med.  The mixture will separate, then turn a creamy white.  Continue stirring until brown and just starts to get bubbly.  As soon as it starts to smoke (about 300F), remove IMMEDIATELY from heat and pour over chips and almonds.  Let cool and break into desired shape and size.

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