Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

May the wonders of the season be yours!

*I know you've all been on the edge of your seat wondering what picture did make the cut for the holiday card. This is it! Isn't my kid just the cutest thing!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cookie Crazy

There is really only one tradition in my family when it comes to Christmastime. And that is my beloved Peanut Butter Balls. They are a sweet reminder of many, many happy Christmases past. I make them at least once each holiday season, and in fact just took them to a party last week. But when Mep of Not to Brag asked me and two of our other beautiful friends, Heather and E..., to be a part of a virtual cookie party, I thought it might be time to try something new.

As my now no doubt nervous in-laws are aware, I have a penchant for trying new dessert recipes. Unfortunately, my ability to create these masterpieces is severely outmatched by my desire to pick the most complicated and obscure recipes available. The year of the pumpkin flan comes to mind. It is to their credit that at each holiday event of the past 7 years, they have gamely nibbled on my creations. And not once have they made gagging noises or spit anything out, even though I am quite certain that they have all wanted to on at least one occasion. Even my husband, who is a human garbage disposal of food has on occasion been less than complimentary of my efforts. Which means it was BAD. So for this challenge I was really determined to make something that was not especially complicated and more importantly, tasty.

I looked over my cupboard and with a distinct aversion to the idea of a trip to the grocery store on this cold evening, I found a recipe that made use of the materials I had on hand. Which as it turns out, weren't so meager as I had feared. I was able to produce two ingredients that are favorites of mine, and most amazingly, in a quantity adequate for my needs. Specifically: white chocolate chips and cranberries. And with the discovery of some quick oats on the top shelf, I knew I was on my way.

White Chocolate Chip Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup flour
- 1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats (not instant
- 3/4 cup dried cranberries
- 6 ounces white chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. In a large bowl using an electric mixer combine the sugar, brown sugar and butter; mix well to cream together. (I used my Kitchen-aid stand mixer for the whole process. I don't know how I lived without it.)
3. Add in egg and vanilla extract and mix until combined.
4. Add the cinnamon, baking soda, salt and flour and mix well.
5. Fold in the oatmeal, dried cranberries and white chocolate chips - making sure that all ingredients are uniformly distributed.
6. Drop teaspoonfuls (or roll into balls, but that is quite messy and doesn't make a discernible difference) about 3 inches apart onto a greased cookie sheet and bake at 375° for 10-12 minutes, just until the edges are lightly golden.
7. Remove from oven and let cool for 2-3 minutes on the cookie sheet, then transfer cookies to cooling rack.

I wish you could see the nice little red cranberries that accent this cookie, but that color just doesn't show up well.

They came out a little crispier than I was expecting. That might be due to the pan I used. It might be due to overcooking. It might be that I used light butter. Really, none of that matters because these cookies are HEAVENLY. They are exactly the right mix of crispy and chewy. When I set the plate down in front of Neil, he said "looks good" in a non-committal way. I can't blame him. But after one bite, he was making yummy noises and proclaimed them "damn good!" Which is a far cry from the usual "fine" that passes for high praise in this house. 

I definitely recommend giving them a try, I just know these little beauties will be crowd pleasers! Enjoy!

And be sure to visit Mep, E... and Heather to see what yummy confections they made!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Holiday Card Reject

Neil told me this was too esoteric (I'm editorializing here, his exact comment was something along the lines of "why's it out of focus?") so it has been abandoned for a less artsy image. I love the new one, but I love this one too and I just couldn't let it languish in my discard pile without sharing it.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Jingle Bells

Last year, I was pretty much on the ball with our holiday cards. They weren't mailed yet, but they were at least in the late design stages. However. I couldn't get my stuff together when it came to decorating. I just couldn't find the spirit to bedeck our halls. So our tree didn't go up until the week before Christmas.

This year, I couldn't wait to get our tree set up. Starting around Thanksgiving, I badgered Neil to climb up in the top of the garage and get it down so I could set it up and decorate. I won't lie and tell you that it's construction was without it's speedbumps. Every year, I pull out all of the parts and kick myself for not having a better system to remember which pieces go where.* And there was some crankiness while I scratched my hands up as I placed, re-placed and then fluffed the branches. And neither the cats nor the kid were especially cooperative when it came to ornament placement. But I had lovely carols playing on the stereo and a pepperminty candle burning on the mantle.

And when I plugged in the lights. Ahhh. It. Was. Breathtaking. Sophie, standing a half dozen feet from it, spread her arms and WOWed. That moment was enough to make any pain and suffering worth it. A thousand times over. So our tree went up the first week of December and now we'll have nearly a month to enjoy it's twinkling beauty. God, I love Christmastime.

Now, I just need to figure out what the hell I'm going to do about our cards.

*THIS year, I'm instituting a color-coding system. Remind me round about December 26th, will ya?