Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Walkin in a Winter Wonderland

Snow! Yes I have snow! I have it on my doorstep, I have it on my bushes, I have it on my car...I HAVE SNOW! As I mentioned in a previous post, the Westside of Albuquerque doesn't usually see snow. So when I was at work yesterday and the beautiful flakes kept falling from the sky and suddenly turning into 3 inch piles outside the office I was ecstatic. There's something about snow that turns everything into a beautiful serene landscape.

This is the time I wish I was a kid again! Our schools are, for now, on a two hour delay, which takes me back to my own childhood snow days. I would wake up, run into the kitchen and have my ears ringing with the words that came out of my mom's mouth, "No school...snow". My brother and would get all bundled up and head out for our first mission, snowman building. But not just one snowman, we would make a Daddy, a Mommy, a Sister and a Brother snowman. The next task was sledding.

We used to live by a park that had this huge hill, we actually the park was built kinda like a pit. We'd show up at the park and all the other kids would have these fancy sleds and would make it half way down the hill and come to a complete stop. Well we didn't have enough money for a sled, so my parents gave us an extra scrap of linoleum they had from when we revamped the kitchen floor. All the kids gave us a look of disgust when we pulled out our blue checkered linoleum sled. Chris and I were a little embarrassed at first, but the second we zoomed down the hill like a speed racer, making it all the way to the bottom, the embarrassment quickly faded.

Pretty soon everybody wanted to take a turn on our sled! Ah, those were the days! As I'm writing this post they just announced all schools are cancelled, and I just received a text from my boss that we still have to go to work, no delay, no closure. Please, please can I go back to being a kid?!

This week's TWD was another great cookie recipe, that I'm sure Santa would LOVE to eat during his busy night of present deliveries. This recipe, Buttery Jam Cookies, is brought to you by Heather of Randomosity and the Girl . I really enjoyed these cookies, they were light, buttery and the surprise chunks of jam really got me excited! Not only will this be a favorite of Santa's but of favorite of my family, and hopefully yours!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Dear Heroes,

See, I'm a little too old to actually mail my Christmas Wishlist to Santa (Hey, I still make one, it just doesn't go to the North Pole). So I figured this year I would send my Christmas Wishes and Santa Cookies to someone a little more special. Jason Lansdon is my new found Santa. At the young age of 25 Jason is a Sergeant in the U.S. Marines, and is currently on his four tour in Iraq. This Christmas Jason will be away from his wife Jackie and his three month old baby girl Jayden.

I was introduced to Jason when I joined the Baking Gals group. Baking Gals has teams of bakers, who bake for an individual, and their troop, who is serving our country. After reading through this round's teams, I was struck by Jason's introduction. Being that I am 24, I can't imagine having been to Iraq four times and to be away from my family at the Holidays.

Jason's favorite cookie is Chocolate Chip, and I wasn't going to deny him of his favorite cookie. But, I figured some of the other bakers would also be sending chocolate chip cookies, so I wanted to make mine a little different. I added some grated orange zest and grand marnier to the batter. Why have I never done this before? I made myself a mini cookie and was in heaven at first bite.

I also sent along some Oatmeal Crisps. Which are crunchy, mixed with a little bit of spice. A perfect holiday cookie.

I am just so proud of all these men and women who are serving our country, and know that cookies could never say how grateful I am for their strength, bravery and selflessness. They truly are my heroes, and I will always be thankful to them for making sure that all of us here at home wake up every morning to a safe and free United States of America! My Christmas wish is to say Happy Holidays Sergeant Lansdon and Crew and may you have a safe and blessed New Year! You will be in my thoughts and prayers!

Oatmeal Crisps

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon grated whole nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (optional)
1 cup packed brown sugar
5 tablespoons butter or stick margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup regular oats

Preheat oven to 350°.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 7 ingredients (flour through pepper) in a medium bowl. Beat sugar, butter, and vanilla in a large bowl with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add egg; beat well. Stir in flour mixture and oats.
Drop by level tablespoons 2 inches apart onto baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 12 minutes or until crisp. Cool on pan 2 to 3 minutes or until firm. Remove cookies from pan; cool on wire racks.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow

It's officially holiday time here in Albuquerque. As I woke up and turned the TV on this morning the first thing that I heard was notice of school cancellations, which can only mean one thing...SNOW! Now in New Mexico, we get quite a bit of snow up in the Eastern part of the state, but when it snows here in Albuquerque, it's usually only the mountains that see any of the snow.

Albuquerque is pretty much divided in half, one half is the east side. Which is home to the Sandia mountains (which holds the worlds longest tram ride!) and pretty much downtown Albuquerque. Then you have the west side, which is where I live. The west is the newer, continuously growing part of Albuquerque.

So, although my side of town hardly ever gets any snow, I love waking up in the morning and looking over at the Sandia's which have been frosted with white icing! Then you get the sun peeking up over the mountain and you have the most beautiful winter wonderland you've ever seen!

And although this weeks TWD could mimic my Sandia's with a good coat of icing, I chose to leave my Grandma's All-Occasion Sugar Cookies icing free. I did however decide to adjust the flavor a little bit by adding some orange zest and some allspice to the mix. And boy-oh-boy did I hit the Christmas nail on the head! The cookies were fruity, yet had the warm coziness that everyone loves during the holidays from the allspice. To check out the recipe and make a batch of these yummy cookies for yourself check out Ulrike's blog Kuchenlatein.

Monday, December 1, 2008

It's the Holiday Season

It's that time of year again people! It's time to wake up at the crack of dawn and stand in 3 hour lines for Christmas presents. It's time to get on the wobbly ladder and hang the Christmas lights. It's time to have the smell of an evergreen tree permeating your house. It's time to get in the kitchen and bake, bake, bake and then bake some more Christmas cookies!

TWD started off the Holiday baking with Linzer Sables, chosen by our first male TWD-er, Dennis of Living the Life! And I have to say that this recipe is pretty easy going. I sometimes hate when it seems like Holiday cookies take more effort to make than they do to enjoy. But these cookies were simple and straight forward.
I still don't know if I'm a big fan of them yet. I'm not sure how I feel about the cookie itself. It was good and crisp, but for me tasted a little bland. I also am not a fan of inhaling powdered sugar when I eat my cookie so I chose to fore go suffocation this time around :)
There's plenty more to bake and plenty more to decorate, so stay tuned for more Holiday Baking!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What came first, the pumpkin or the pecan?

Yahoo! We are just days away from my second favorite holiday, Thanksgiving. There are a few reasons why i love this holiday. I would like to say that the first reason is the food, but I'd be lying. The biggest reason I love Thanksgiving is that I get to spend of full day of cooking, laughing and sharing memories with my family.

In my house we start cooking the night before actual Turkey Day. We have to make the cornbread for the stuffing (or dressing as we call it), pies are made the night before, and we also make a breakfast casserole to have in the morning. Then, at the crack of dawn on Thursday Mom and I are up, with coffee in hand and we are chopping away. Celery, onions, sausage, all meet the knife, and we are thankful for their sacrifice.

The rest of the day is filled with me, Mom and Dad moving about the kitchen, with pots clinking, burners boiling, and Mr. Turkey roasting away. The smells fill the kitchen quickly and little by little the magic starts to happen. Deviled eggs are made, green been casserole is browned, pea salad is refrigerating, marshmallows on the sweet potatoes are melting, biscuits are rising, gravy is thickening, cranberries are jellied, pickled and olives are trayed and of course Mr. Turkey is carved.

My plate is piled with food, and I'll probably go back for seconds. The crowd of family now moves to the living room to surround the TV and watch some football. The dogs sit close and stare with puppy dogs eyes, begging for a morsel. After a few hours and some games, the pies, pumpkin and pecan, are unveiled, coffee is brewed, wine is opened and we all sit around the table talking about memories past. This is also the time that we bust out the shopping ads and create our plan of attack for the next days shopping mission.

It is for all of these reasons that I love Thanksgiving. I love spending all day with my family, I love, love the food, I love the football game, I love playing games at the table, and I love to be able to reflect on everything I am thankful for.
This week I was thankful for TWD for a few reasons. Vibi from La Casserole Carrée was our recipe queen this week and she chose Dorie's Thanksgiving Twofer Pie. It's half pumpkin and half pecan. I was so excited about this one, because my pie crust actually worked. When TWD made our blueberry pie, my pie crust was dumped in the trash and store bought was substituted. But not this time! My pie is completely home/hand made! The pumpkin filling had an extra kick thanks to the rum, which I really liked. And I loved the crunchy topping and nutty pecans. If you're anything like my family where we always make a pumpkin pie and a pecan pie, your life may have just got a little easier thanks to this scrumptious hybrid!