Christmas cookies

My mom and I did an abbreviated version of our holiday baking this year.  We still managed to make several dozen cookies of various kinds (which my husband’s gaming group promptly devoured yesterday):

  • Peanut butter blossoms
  • Christmas M&M cookies
  • Mint chocolate chip cookies
  • Rice Krispie treats
  • Buckeyes

The mint chocolate chip cookies came out way better than the M&M cookies, despite using the same recipe.  It’s so interesting how the littlest change can produce different results when baking.  For a scientific look at this, check out this cool article by Kenji Lopez at Serious Eats that can help you get your cookies exactly how you want them.

Buckeyes are a great traditional candy in Ohio: a sweet peanut butter ball dipped in chocolate so it looks like a buckeye nut (or Brutus, the OSU mascot).  The homemade ones look more authentic to my eye, marred only by the small hole left by the toothpick when I dip them.  Here’s the recipe I use.  I also use a mini-crock pot type fondue pot for melting the chocolate–I think it’s better/easier than microwaving or using a double boiler.  I also like to make them small because they are quite sweet.

The hunt for Darth Vader

Darth Vader was chillin in my medicine cabinet.

The Easter Bunny came to my house last night, and he left a bunch of…Darth Vaders?  We bought these Vader-shaped Easter eggs at Target (they have jelly beans in them).  My husband hid them so well I still haven’t found them all!

Happy Easter to all.  After Mass my family had a “traditional” dinner with ham and all that.  I made an angel food cake with strawberries for dessert (using this recipe).  It was super easy with my beautiful new stand mixer!  Angel food cakes are fun because you start by whipping a bunch of egg whites.  It’s so cool to see a cup of liquidy egg slime eventually fill up a whole bowl with fluff.  Yay science!

Merry Sithmas!

If you’re on Twitter, you should follow @DeathStarPR.

Hope everyone had a nice Chanukah and Christmas.  My house had a visitor on Christmas Eve:R2D2While I was at Mass, my husband wrapped my presents and made them into the shape of R2D2!!  That was as awesome as the presents themselves!

Christmas is when I do most of my baking during the year.  My mom and I pick a day to do all our cookie making; this year we managed to do Rice Krispie treats, peanut butter blossoms, M&M cookies, and cut-out sugar cookies (yes, I have Star Wars cookie cutters.  I made some holiday Boba Fetts.)  Instead of Buckeyes this year, we made peanut butter mice!  I took them to work where they were a big hit.  Here’s the recipe.  They were not too hard to make, you just have to make sure to get the ears and tail attached quickly before the candy coating sets.  I also made a peanut butter cheesecake for Christmas dessert (I think it was my husband’s favorite of all the cheesecakes I’ve made so far).

Rudolph cupcakes

My husband celebrated his birthday recently, and he requested that I make him “half a cake” because he doesn’t have a sweet tooth like I do.  Since I was using a box mix, I told him I really could not.  But luckily, his office holiday party was also last weekend, so I ended up divvying up the batter into one round cake pan and 12 cupcakes to take to the party.

I made chocolate frosting from scratch using my mom’s recipe.  To give the cupcakes some “holiday spirit” I thought of adding a red or green M&M to the top of each.  I put a red candy on a cupcake and made my husband taste-test it (he did not protest).  Then I noticed: the brown cupcake with a red dot looked a little like a reindeer with a red nose.  So I added pretzel antlers, and voila! Rudolph Cupcakes.


Officially a grown-up

Well, we have passed the initiation ceremony: my husband and I hosted our first Thanksgiving this year.  I feel very grown-up.  There are paintings on my walls.  I own wineglasses.  I cooked a turkey.  Hello, adulthood.

We had both of our families over for a noon dinner and it was really lovely.  We put in a lot of hard work to get the house together in the weeks leading up to it, but it was all worth it.  Everyone had a nice time, even my little niece (it was her first Thanksgiving).  I have a lot to be thankful for this year: a good job, house, family that lives near me, and a husband who is my reason to get out of bed every morning (and not just because he puts his cold feet on me!)  I am much happier than I was about this time last year, and I am grateful.

I had a lot of fun decorating.  I made place cards for everyone at the table:

I made these at a scrapbooking retreat recently.  The Creative Memories Border Maker was used to make the cute fence and pumpkins.

For dessert, instead of the traditional pie, I made a pumpkin cheesecake from scratch, which turned out great.  I used the Cheesecake Factory’s recipe here: Cheesecake Factory Pumpkin Cheesecake  To make the pumpkin puree, I cut two little pie pumpkins in half and baked them for about an hour at 350°.  I scooped out the flesh and pureed it with a stick blender (which worked much better than a regular blender).  Everyone loved it!

After dinner my family stayed to take a walk and play a little Carcassonne.  Yesterday I slept in and watched some TV Christmas movies as it snowed outside; my husband had some friends over to play D&D.  I went out to do some shopping, and then really wished I hadn’t.  I went back out today for Small Business Saturday and made some purchases at Wayside Workshop in Aurora and at The Learned Owl in Hudson (one of the few bookstores left in the area).  So, my Christmas shopping is started but definitely not finished!