Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas 2009

Moments at home:
David's belated birthday dinner.
Goodies for the neighbors and family.

On our trees:

(Thank you Vaden)

(Thank you Kathy and Bob)

Truckee moments.......the drive

Jacob is entralled with Great-grandpa George's train, which now belongs to Justin

Full of adorable
hmmmm, let me think about that Gram-Gram...

Jus repairing one of GG George's train buildings...
Granddad and Justin building one of GG George's train buildings he never got to. Inside the box was the card I wrote to my Dad one Father's Day when we gifted him this building. Big smile here.
The finished building...this was Dad's beer of choice.
Jus and the building after he finished building it.

Jus and Jacob with the finished town.....

More to come soon.........

Monday, December 14, 2009

Holiday Baking Series - Pumpkin Pineapple Bread

Pumpin Pineapple Bread
2 1/2 c granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
15 oz can pumpkin
8 1/4 oz can crushed pineapple in juice, undrained
4 large eggs
3 1/2 cup flour
2 t baking soda
2 t pumpkin pie spice
1 t saltpowdered sugar (optional)
1 cup coarsely chopped nuts (optional)
1. Heat oven to 350 F and light grease 2 loaf pans.
2 Beat together sugar and butter until blended. Add pumpkin, pineapple and eggs; beat well. Set aside.
3. In medium bowl, combine dry ingredients.
4. Mix with pumpkin mixture until just blended. Add nuts if desired.
5. Divide evenly between loaf pans and bake 55-65 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
6. Cool 5 minutes and remove from pan to cooling rack. Cool completely. Lightly sprinkle with powdered sugar.
YIELD: 16 servings

Holiday Baking Series - Almond Spice Cookies

Almond Spice Cookies

2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
4 ounces slivered almonds (1 cup) - I used toasted ones from TJ's

Beat together flour, baking powder, slat and spices in a small bowl.

Beat together butter and sugar about 3 minutes in a standing mixer with paddle attachment on medium high speed. Beat in egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low, then add flour mixture and mix until just combined. Stir in the almonds.

Form dough into a 12-inch log (2 inches in diameter) on a sheet of plastic wrap and roll up dough in plastic wrap. Chill dough on a baking sheet until firm, at least 4 hours. (To roll cookies into balls, see note at end of recipe)

Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 375 degrees F. (I baked my cookies on one sheet at a time in the oven, baking sheet on middle rack of oven.)

Cut enough 1/8- 1/4-inch slices form log with a heavy knife to fill the sheet/s. Arrange slices about 1 inch apart (chill remainder of log, wrapped in plastic wrap). if you'd like you can garnish with course sugar.

Bake cookies, switching positions if doing 2 sheets at a time halfway through baking, until edges are golden, 12 to 15 minutes total. Cool on sheets 3 minutes, then transfer with a metal spatula to racks to cool completely. Make more cookies with remaining dough on cooled baking sheets.

Note: Dough log can be chilled up to 5 days or frozen, wrapped in double layer of plastic wrap, 1 month. If frozen, thaw dough in refrigerator just until it can be sliced.

Instead of forming dough into a log and chilling, you can roll tablespoons of dough into 1 1/4-inch and can roll in course sugar. Bake following directions above. You can make plain butter cookies with this recipe by omitting spices and almonds. Cookies can be garnished with melted chocolate as well.

Yield: About 4 dozen cookies

Holiday Baking Series - Chocolate Truffle Cookies


4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
6 tablespoons butter
2 cups [12 ounces] semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat oven to 250 degrees F.

Chop unsweetened chocolate. Cut butter into pieces. Melt chopped chocolate, butter and 1 cup chocolate ships in a small pan in oven, stirring occasionally. Cool.

Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Beat sugar and eggs about 2 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Stir in chocolate mixture, then flour mixture and finally the remaining 1 cup chocolate chips.

Cover and chill until firm, at least 1 hour. Dough must be very cold.

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Shape into approximately 1 inch balls. It may help to wet hands. Bake on ungreased cookie sheets, 2 inches apart, until puffed, about 10 minutes.

YIELD: about 4 dozen cookies

Holiday Baking Series - Pumpkin Cookies


2 cups butter, softened (4 sticks)
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 cups pureed cooked pumpkin (or canned)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups raisins
2 cups chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the pumpkin and vanilla extract, blending well. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt.
Add to the creamed mixture, stirring well. Mix in the raisins and nuts. Drop by spoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets and bake for 10 to 15 minutes.

YIELD: - makes up to 7 dozen, depending on size. I use a small scoop

Holiday Baking Series - Puff PAstry Pinwheel Cookies with Jam

Puff Pastry Pinwheel Cookies with Jam

I package of frozen puff pastry (2 sheets), thawed

1 egg, beaten to blend (glaze)
1/2 cup (about) sugar
1/2 cup (about) assorted jams (such as peach, apricot, raspberry, kiwi, blueberry)

Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly butter 2 heavy large baking sheets. Roll out 1 puff pastry sheet on lightly floured surface to 16X13-inch rectangle. Trim edges neatly, forming 12X15-inch rectangle. Cut rectangle into twenty 3-inch squares. Using a small sharp knife, make 1-inch long diagonal cut in all 4 corners of 1 square, cutting toward the center (do not cut through center). To form pinwheels, fold every other point of the pastry toward center of square, pressing to adhere. Repeat with remaining puff pastry squares. (I brought all points up and made flowers.)

Brush pinwheels lightly with egg glaze. Sprinkle each with 1/2 teaspoon sugar. Place scant 1/2 teaspoon jam in center of each. Using metal spatula, transfer cookies to prepared baking sheet. Bake until pinwheels are golden and puffed, about 13 minutes. Using metal spatula transfer cookies to rack and cool. Repeat with remaining puff pastry sheet, glaze, sugar and jam.

Sprinkle cookies with powdered sugar, if desired. I did. (Can be prepared ahead. Place between waxed paper sheets in airtight container and freeze up to 2 weeks; thaw before using. You can also store them at room temperature in an airtight container up to 3 days.)

Yield: 40 pinwheel (or flower) cookies

Holiday Baking Series - David's Snicker Doodle Recipe

David's Long-time Recipe for Snicker Doodles

Cream together:
½ cup shortening
½ cup butter
1 ½ cups sugar

2 eggs
Sift together and add:
2 ¾ cups flour
2 tablespoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Chill dough until stiff; form into balls the size of walnuts and roll in:
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Bake 8 to 10 minutes at 375.

Holiday Baking Series - Cream Cheese Cookies with Jam

Cream Cheese Cookies with Jam

1 1/2 cups butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
4 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Powdered sugar

Combine butter, cream cheese and sugar; mixing until fluffy and well blended. Blend in eggs, lemon juice and zest. Add combined dry ingredients; mix well. Chill f a few hours at least. Shape about a tablespoon or so of dough into balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet; flatten slightly. Indent centers; fill with jam. (I used homemade peach and some strawberry) Bake at 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes. Cool; sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Yield: about 7 dozen

Holiday Baking Series - Chocolate Grand Marnier Balls

Chocolate Grand Marnier Balls

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 can (5 oz) evaporated milk'
1 1/4 cups vanilla cookie crumbs
1 1/4 cups ginger snap cookie crumbs
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans (can use walnuts)
1/3 cup Grand Marnier(I used about 2 teaspoons more than called for)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups shredded coconut

Melt the chocolate chips and evaporated milk in a pot over low heat, stirring constantly, until well blended. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool for about 30 minutes. Combine all remaining ingredients except the coconut; stir into the chocolate mixture, blending well.

Shape the mixture into 1 to 1 1/2 inch balls (if the dough is too moist, add up to 1/3 cup more cookie crumbs - I had to add some extra), then roll in coconut. Let air-dry for 2 hours po waxed paper. Transfer to an airtight container; store in refrigerator.
Note: You can use any liqueur you like such as Kahlua, Frambroise, etc. I happened to love the taste of chocolate with orange.

Yield: About 4 dozen

Holiday Baking Series - Chocolate Mint Cookies

Chocolate Mint Cookies

If you like the Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies, you are going to love these!

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-Process) - I used King Arthur Double Dutch Processed Dark Chocolate
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
1 large egg

Whisk flour, cocoa powder, and salt in medium bowl to blend. using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in peppermint extract and vanilla extract. Beat in sugar in 3 additions. add egg and beat until blended. Add dry ingredients and beat just until blended (dough will be sticky).

Divide dough between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. Using plastic wrap as an aid, form dough on each into 2-inch-diameter log. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate dough until well chilled, at least 2 hours. (Dough can be prepared 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated.) I also like to place on a baking sheet before putting in fridge.

Position rack in center and 1 rack in third top of oven; preheat to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Unwrap cookie dough logs; roll briefly on work surface to form smooth round logs. (I could get them nice and round, but as soon as I sliced though it flattened on the bottom every time.) Cut logs crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Place rounds on prepared baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Bake cookies until tops and edges are dry to the touch, about 15 minutes. Transfer baking sheets with cookies to racks; cool completely. Stir chocolate in top of double boiler set over simmering water until melted and smooth. Remove from over water. Cool melted chocolate until slightly thickened but still pourable, about 10 minutes. (A few minutes and it happened for me.) Sip fork into melted chocolate, then wave fork back and forth over cookies, drizzling melted chocolate thickly over cookies in zigzag pattern. Refrigerate cookies on baking sheets un til chocolate is set, about 10 minutes. (Cookies can be made 1 week ahead. Refrigerate in airtight container between sheets of parchment paper or waxed paper.)

Yield: Makes about 3 1/2 dozen

Monday, December 7, 2009

Snow in Mather? YES!

We had a dusting of snow early this morning. we got out a bit late to get good pictures of it. It had already pretty much melted. Our neighbors Jeff and Kelli got out earlier and got some great pics of it. Crazy fun! And crazy cold!

Annual Holiday Party 2009 - Part Two

Kathy, me, Bob
Buffet tables

Me and jen

David and the wine room list

Homemade mixed pepper jam over cream cheese

Part of the buffet tables and two of the trees

Sarah and Cathy helping with last minute food prep

wine exchange

Guess how many pistachios are in the container game

Annual Holiday Party 2009

Dill dip with crudites

Cucumber rounds with boursin, smoked salmon and fresh dill

Stuffed eggs
Sweet and sour sausges and picadillo served with torilla scoops

Meatballs in an oriental sauce

Sarah and me
David and Fran
Verona, Paulette, Rose, Barbara, Me, AnnaJean
Bill, Dave, Doris

John and Justin
Bon and Derek


Me and Dyan


Dom, Bob, Kathy and Cathy

Lindsey and Bill

Diana, Wayne, Jen and Dyan

Katrina, Jo, Shawn, Fred, Callie and Theresa

Honey, Sharon, Jim, Bill, Bob

Jen and Jacob

Bob and Kathy

Wayne's turn in the wine exchange

Kathy and Theresa
Cathy, Me and Kathy - the best of friends
Derek and Me

Jen and Dyan

Wayne and Diana

Jeff and Kelli
Sarah, Santa (aka Dom) and Me
Me, Wayne and Diana