Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Cookies

These are the cookies that I made during my baking extravaganza yesterday. Between being pregnant and taking care of a toddler, this literally took me all day. I started at about 7:45 am and finished at about 5:30 pm. As you can see, there are 3 different kinds and they are all delicious. I made two of them last year and tried another for the first time yesterday. They all turned out wonderfully. It was a long day on my feet, but it was worth it for the yummy cookies! Enjoy!

Chocolate Snowballs
by Mary Lou Welsh from Taste of Home Best Loved Cookies and Bars 2008

3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Powdered sugar

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg, milk and vanilla; mix well. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt and baking soda; gradually add to creamed mixture. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Shape into 1-inch balls; place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 for 7-8 minutes or until the tops or crackled. Remove to wire racks to cool completely. Roll cookies in the powdered sugar.

Peppermint Snowballs
by Judith Scholovich from Taste of Home Best Loved Cookies and Bars 2008

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour

2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons finely crushed peppermint candy or candy canes

1/4 cup powdered sugar
6 tablespoons finely crushed peppermint candy or candy canes

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar; add vanilla. Stir in flour; knead until mixed well. Reserve 1/2 cup of dough; shape remaining dough into 1-inch balls.
For filling, combine cream cheese and milk in a small bowl. Stir in sugar and candy; mix well. Make a deep well in the center of each ball; fill with 1/4 teaspoon filling. Use reserved dough to cover filling. Reshape if necessary into smooth balls.
Place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 for 12-14 minutes. Combine topping ingredients; roll cookies in mixture while still warm. Cool on wire racks.

Fudge-Filled Sandies
by Jeanette Ray from Taste of Home Best Loved Cookies and Bars 2009

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 cup finely chopped pecans
Additional powdered sugar

3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon shortening

In a large bowl, cream butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Combine flour and pecans; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.
Roll into 1-inch balls. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets. Using the end of a wooden spoon handle (I used my finger), make an indentation in the center of each.
Bake at 325 for 18-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Roll warm cookies in additional powdered sugar; cool on wire racks.
In a microwave (or in a double boiler) melt chocolate chips, stir until smooth. Stir in the corn syrup, water and shortening. Spoon or pipe into cooled cookies.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bacon Pesto Pasta Bake

Oh yes. Pasta filled with deliciousness. This dish was extremely easy to make and clean up and was very satisfying. I wish I had had some garlic bread and a salad to go with it - then it really would have been perfect. This dish is flavorful and very cheesy, just the way I like it. I hope you like it too! Enjoy!

Bacon Pesto Pasta Bake
from Budget Bites

14.5 oz penne pasta
1 10 oz jar pesto
1 pint grape tomatoes
6 oz bacon (half of a regular pack)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Meanwhile, cook the bacon until crispy, and dry between paper towels. Crumble. Cut the tomatoes in half. Preheat the oven to 350 and coat a large casserole dish with cooking spray. When the pasta is done, drain and return to the pot. Mix in the pesto, tomatoes, bacon and 1 cup of cheese. Pour into the casserole dish. Sprinkle with the remaining cup of cheese. Bake for 20 minutes.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts Gratin

This is the side that I brought to Thanksgiving this year. I found it on, one of my very favorite websites. I get all kinds of recipes there and the pictures are gorgeous. This dish turned out delicious, although I think it is definitely a dish that needs to be made and served immediately. Or, if reheated, do it in a microwave. It is really cheesy and the sauce is very yummy. I know that cauliflower and Brussels sprouts are two veggies that are iffy on many people's lists, but trust me, try it. Enjoy!

Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts Gratin
Adapted from Barefoot in Paris by Ina Garten

3/4 head of cauliflower, cut into large florets
3/4 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered lengthwise through core
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups hot milk
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
3/4 cup grated Gruyère (or Swiss) cheese, divided
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 375. Prepare a large bowl filled with cold water and ice. Cook the cauliflower florets in a large pot of boiling salted water for 5-6 minutes, until tender but still firm. Drain. Throw the cooked cauliflower into the bowl of ice water to stop them from cooking any further. Bring the pot back up to a boil and put in the quartered Brussels sprouts and cook for 3-4 minutes. The cauliflower should be completely cooled. Drain them and set aside. After the Brussels sprouts are done, throw them in the bowl of ice water. Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Pour the hot milk into the butter-flour mixture and stir until it comes to a boil. Boil, whisking constantly, for 1 minute, or until thickened. Off the heat, add 1 teaspoon of salt, the pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup of the Gruyère and the Parmesan.
Pour 1/3 of the sauce on the bottom of an 8 x 11 x 2 baking dish. Placed the drained cauliflower and Brussels sprouts on top and then spread the rest of the sauce evenly on top. Combine the bread crumbs with the remaining 1/4 cup of Gruyère and sprinkle on top. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and drizzle over the gratin. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the top is browned.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Frosted Brown Sugar Cookies

I made these cookies last year while I was experimenting for Christmas traditions, and as you can see, they've made a comeback this year. They are delicious. They are soft and the frosting is to die for. The frosting requires some cooling time, but even with that I had these cookies completely done within an hour and a half. They have a very deep flavor and are just wonderful. I hope you try them and share them! Enjoy!
Frosted Brown Sugar Cookies
by Loretta Patterson from Taste of Home Best Loved Cookies and Bars

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup sour cream
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup powdered sugar

In a small mixing bowl, cream butter and brown sugar. Beat in egg and sour cream; mix well. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.
Drop by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 375 for 9-11 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks to cool.
For frosting, in a small saucepan, melt butter over low heat; add brown sugar. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Gradually add the milk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in powdered sugar. Cool for 20-30 minutes. Frost cooled cookies.
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