December 21, 2010

Christmas Countdown 2010 - #6

On this first day of winter, the anticipation of Christmas is high! I can hear the wind kicking up and we have snow in the forecast. As much as we love a white Christmas, we're praying that harsh weather won't spoil our plans in the coming days, as it has been doing all over the world according to the morning news. Hope they all get home for Christmas!

Cookie baking is done and this may well be a new favorite this year - cranberry orange shortbread. Here's the link to the recipe. One caveat for this link - when I tried to change the quantity for these to make a half recipe, only the first few ingredients were halved by the adjustment tool. The flour, and ingredients listed after flour, were still displayed in the original amounts. Luckily it was very obvious that the dough was way too dry and I found the error when I looked at the adjusted recipe more closely. I just added more butter, etc. and the dough was rescued. These are so tasty that it's not too much of a burden to have ended up with a whole recipe instead of half! The slice and bake feature is great since you can make the dough when you have all the ingredients out for other cookies, then pop them in the fridge until you're ready for them.

Another new cookie this year are these peppermint snowballs. These were NOT easy to make, but I have to admit after grumbling during the process, that they might be worth the trouble! I did make one change, which was using peppermint extract in place of the vanilla extract. The bottom picture shows them mid-process, when the cream cheese/powdered sugar/crushed candy cane filling has been plopped into them. The next step involves covering the filling with another little piece of dough, then rolling them in more powdered sugar and crushed candy - tedious...but these are so tender and buttery and minty, ahhh.

Two tips for cookie making that will make a big difference - use quality ingredients, including butter when it calls for butter, and don't over-bake them! Be brave and take them out just before you think they're done. They will continue setting up after they come out of the oven and you will have moist, tender cookies!

And while we're talking about food, here is what we got in the mail this week - this cute little Santa gift box, filled with my mother's peanut brittle! She said she wasn't going to send any since we had the treat of my uncle's peanut brittle, but in the end she couldn't resist sending some to us since I think my husband may be the most adamant fan of her brittle that has ever lived!! Many times she has sent him his own private stash for his birthday too!

Another gift that went under our tree this week is this wonderful book! Twelve Days of Christmas in Iowa, by Susan Cornelison. I saw this at my aunt's house and immediately badgered her to tell me where I could get one, to which she replied that she had purchased all of them that the store had, and one of them was intended as our Christmas present - ha! I may have spoiled her plan to wrap it and present it, but is was a great surprise nevertheless and she obviously knows she made a good choice in gifts! Thank you so much! In case you don't live in Iowa, here's a link for more of these Twelve Days of Christmas state books.

This will end my Christmas countdown posts as we are headed into some wonderful days together, and laptops need to be stashed for a while! We will enjoy a Mannheim Steamroller concert tonight, Christmas Eve lunch with my grandmother, an evening Lessons and Carols service with our church family (followed by a cookie feast!), time spent at home cooking Duck a l'Orange and opening gifts, and joyfully praising God for the greatest gift of all! Merry Christmas!
"O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to Thy perfect light."
Hopkins, 1857

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