Wednesday, December 29, 2010
I'll follow you
Like food follows funerals:
With relief and to forget...
There's more to this poem, but that's what I remember off the top of my head. Of course, we don't forget, do we?
Chocolate cake with sunflower seeds. Grandpa was a Kansan through-and-through.
My cousin Angie said, "Remember how we all used to put black olives on the ends of our fingers?"
(some photos by Dan)
Did you notice what's missing? Dessert!! For the first time in my life, I was too full to eat any Thanksgiving dessert. I blame the baby.
I had pie for breakfast the next day.
A few of our recipe links:
Cranberry Horseradish Dressing
Green Beans with Balsamic-Shallot Butter
Saturday, December 25, 2010
Limited Edition Mike Perry Sugar Cookie. Should we sell this on Ebay?
I'm pleased to be able to share our 2010 Cookie Party Menu with some recipe links. The party took place last Sunday evening and seemed pretty successful to me, especially considering my baking time was cut short this year by the several days taken up with traveling to attend my grandfather's funeral.
In a strange twist of coincidence, my grandfather's childhood nickname was "Cookie," so I dedicated this year's party to his memory and asked a few guests to bring a couple dozen cookies to round out my weakened ranks. Still, I managed to make over 1,000 cookies in under three weeks, and there were plenty to go around.
This year, for our 14th Annual Cookie Party, I stuck mostly to tried-and-true recipes that I have made a number of times. I baked just two new kinds of cookies, as you'll see below. Please feel free to compare and contrast this list with what I made in 2008 and 2009.
Next year, I may just have an 8-month-old "Cookie" of my own in tow, and I'm really interested to see what that could do to my cookie party timing and productivity. I've got some time to plot and plan how to incorporate my child (and my friends' children) into the event, and plenty of fudge in the freezer to eat while I think it over.
Now, on to this year's lineup:
Cookies and Other Homemade Items
Artichoke and Spinach Dip with crackers (not pictured) -- Like last year, we made this a day ahead and heated it up about 30 minutes before the party.
Mix together two 8 oz. cream cheese packages, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 small bottles of chopped artichoke hearts (drained), and one 16-oz bag of frozen spinach. Heat until warm, then mix in garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and grated parmesan cheese. Salt and pepper to taste. Just before baking, top with a mixture of bread crumbs and parmesan cheese (and spices, if you like). Bake until heated through (my oven is usually set at about 350, for other reasons, and that temp. works just fine for this dip). Then serve with bread or crackers and thank my friend Angela for the simple recipe!
Boy Scout Bars (contain peanut butter chips and coconut) -- Rich and decadent, these are an old standby by now. They keep well in the refrigerator or freezer if made ahead.
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies -- My Aunt Debbie gave my mom this recipe years ago, and my mother always made them for her Open House (on which my Cookie Party is based). I haven't made them in a number of years, but they are delicious and have a soft texture. They're like little, round brownies.
Citrus Sizzlers -- from the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion. I started making these cookies two or three years ago. The way the cayenne flavor pops up as one chews is tops!
Cornflake Pecan Honeys -- Once again, I used the recipe Tia found for me several years ago, but substituted honey for half the sugar. They look kind of dull, but pack a great, nutty crunch.
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. honey
1 c. butter
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 cup flour
2 c. cornflakes (do not crush!)
optional-1/2 c. chopped pecans
Cream butter, honey, and sugar until fluffy, add cream of tartar, baking soda, and vanilla. Add flour, mix well. Add cornflakes, folding in by hand, be careful to not crush them too much. Roll into walnut sized balls, press with fork. Bake 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees.
Crispix Mix (not pictured) -- Dan makes this as his contribution to the cookie party every year (in addition to plenty of dish-washing and bathroom cleaning). It's always good.
Deluxe Sugar Cookies to decorate -- My mom found this recipe in an old Betty Crocker cookbook, but I think it's pretty similar to this one. Not many people decorated cookies this year, but they're also delicious plain.
Double Decker Peanut Butter Marbled Meltaway Fudge -- It looks a bit messy this year, but that happens sometimes. It's always delicious.
English Toffee (contains almonds) -- Last year I tried making the toffee with peanuts, but I'm glad I went back to almonds. This combination is superior.
Gingerbread Pumpkin Sandwich Cookies - New! -- One of the two new recipes for 2010, Dan found this one and sent me an email suggesting I try it. He also pitched in and helped me make and assemble them when I was feeling overwhelmed by cookie-baking responsibility one evening. Way to go, Dan! These turned out beautifully.
Hot Buttered Rum (not pictured) -- recipe from Allrecipes. Feel free to play around with spices and the amount of sugar you'd like to include. This lasts for years in the freezer. Just stir it every 6 months or so.
Hot Cranberry Tea (optional: spiked) -- I make this "tea," or hot punch every year and invite people to drink it as-is (which is how I prefer it) or to spike it with whiskey, rum, vodka, or...whatever they like!
Basically, I simmer a package of cranberries with enough water to cover them until the berries get soft and pop. Then I strain out the berry pulp (set it aside for another purpose) and add a container of frozen orange juice to the berry juice and water. I then add enough water to fill my pasta pot (I can check the exact capacity for you, if you like), and season it with whatever I feel like until it tastes awesome. This year, I used honey, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom.
(adapted from a recipe in 365 Foods Kids Love to Eat)
Magnolia Peanut Butterscotch Cookies -- I took the Magnolia Bakery peanut butter cookie recipe and added butterscotch chips (at my sister's suggestion). They're perfect. If you make them ahead of time, throw a slice of bread into the container to keep them soft.
(recipe here, but add butterscotch chips)
Midnight Booze Balls -- These are made with an entire package of Oreos, and ready in a blink of the food processor. Last year I used rum as my liquor (and they were Midnight Rum Balls), but this year I ran out of rum and used Kahlua and Bailey's instead.
Mrs. Fields Cookies (contain walnuts and pecans) -- You may notice the photo above this entry is of a large wad of dough. This is because I baked these cookies "live" at the Cookie Party and they were all eaten before I could get a photo. However, I have the aforementioned wad of leftover dough in my fridge and I'll be making more soon. Just out of the oven, these are excellent.
(recipe from Mom)
Nutella Mexican Wedding Cookies (contain pecans) -- Okay, so these didn't freeze well. Or maybe they didn't defrost well. I hadn't made them in several years, so I don't remember what I did differently last time. They don't look too attractive in the photo because the powdered sugar coating became gummy as they thawed, but they still tasted just right. By the way, it's worth your time to toast the pecans.
Salty Oatmeal Cookies -- Here's another recipe from the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion. These are a favorite of mine. They are the perfect combination of salty/crunchy and sweet/chewy.
Savory Turkey Meatballs -- Leftover meatballs are a rare item. They also don't photograph as handsomely as they taste. But it wouldn't be a cookie party without them. I used cayenne instead of chili powder again and it was the spiciest year yet.
(recipe from Mom)
Shortbread Jammies -- This recipe is also from the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion. Shortbread is so easy. Use a good jam or preserve on these. You won't be sorry.
Spicy Cheese Puffs -- These were not as spicy as they've been in past years, but they were still good (and best right out of the oven).
(recipe source unknown)
Snickerdoodles -- I make these first every year. They're a zip to make. They freeze like a dream. They taste exquisite. My dad loves 'em, too.
(recipe from Mom)
Spritz cookies -- I believe I raved about these a few posts back. Dan calls them "butter trees" and my dear friend Matthew loves them, too. I make them every year and have no plan to stop.
(recipe from Mom)
Toffee Apple Oatmeal - New! -- I found this recipe in Cooking Light, but actually worked with this blogger's version (but used toffee bits, and made drop cookies by adding some extra flour and oatmeal). They made a very nice cookie, but did not freeze well. I wouldn't make them ahead of time again. I think it was because they contained cooked apple that they got a little soggy after being frozen for a few days.
Triple Ginger Spice Cookies --No vegans came to our party this year, so I didn't adapt this recipe to make the cookies vegan, as I've done in the past. I have to say, though -- they're better this way than with the vegan substitutions. You want me to be honest, right?
Special Guest Cookies (not made by me)
Cavnar Cookies -- My friend Matt made these thumbprint cookies with melted chocolate.
Christa's Pistachio Thumbprint Cookies -- These were a favorite, for sure. The raspberry jam used in their centers was made by Christa's mother-in-law.
Jenni's Ginger Cookies -- Jenni made these and a Mexican-spiced version of World Peace Cookies. Both were excellent. The chocolate World Peace Cookies didn't even make it to the end of the party to get photographed.
Melanie's Peppermint Bark -- My friend Melanie brought two versions of homemade peppermint bark. She told me it might be better for me not to eat the coffee ones, but I'm not one of those pregnant ladies who avoids all caffeine, so I may not take her advice.
Michelle's Brownie Cookies -- The plate in this photo is small, but the cookies were big. Soft and sweet!
Rachel T's Caramel Shortbread -- We had to cut these in quarters, due to their impressive size and enormous flavor. Otherwise my guests would have been rolling, groaning on the floor. I loved them.
Thanks, friends! You really helped make this year's party work!
P.S. Miscellaneous Menu Items (not homemade and not pictured)
Beverages: Fair Trade Hot Cocoa and Spicy Cocoa mixes, Milk, Water, Assorted Teas, Wine
Dried Wasabi Peas
Hummus with Baby Carrots