Monday, December 12, 2011

Busy Baking Day

Yesterday I made chocolate chip cookies - my old recipe that I've used for 40 years - and today I made cranberry almond ones. I decided that those are the only 2 cookies I should ever try to make. They're foolproof, fairly easy and, best of all, delicious.

Mike chopped the fruit and made Gaby's punch while I did the baking. Yummy smells.

Big mess!

The first 2 cranberry-almond batches. Unfortunately, there was 1 cookie in each of the batches that was "ugly" and we had to eat it, so I only got 44 from the recipe.
Here's the recipe:

Cranberry Almond Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 large eggs
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 cups chopped fresh cranberries
1 cup slivered almonds, toasted

Beat butter at medium speech with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugars, beating well. Add almond extract and eggs, beating until blanded.

Combine flour, bakig powder, and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, beating at low speed until blended after each addition. Stir in cranberries and almonds. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake at 375 degrees for 9 to 11 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Yield: 3-1/2 to 4 dozen.

May be frozen up to 6 months.

This is the best thing I've bought this year. I think I'm late to the party, but it makes plopping out cookies so much easier than in the past. How did I live without it?

Oh, and here's the chocolate chip cookie recipe. I like it because it has the slightest salty taste and lots of chips and pecans. So easy too.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup granualted sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp soda
1 (6-oz) package (1 cup) semisweet chocolate pieces
1/2 cup broken nuts

Cream shortening and sugars, egg and vanilla until light and fluffy. Sift together dry ingredients; stir into creamed mixture and blend well. Add chocolate and nuts.

Drop onto cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Makes 3 dozen.

I also made some cranberry bread since I was chopping cranberries anyway. It's an old standby, but it's been a few years since I've made it. Stella has enjoyed the new holiday things around the house.

Guarding the manger. We were amazed that she climbed up on the velvet-covered table, crawled under the little tree and settled herself down without causing even one ornament to fall.

When she asked to go outside this morning, she didn't bargain for rain. Here's her "Let me in immediately" face.
So the baking is done now and I don't having anything to cook until Wednesday when we get ready for the girls to come in on Thursday. Then it's Mexican casserole, chicken enchiladas and a new Southwest salad I'm going to try. We'll spend Friday and Saturday in Andalusia and probably make the usual turkey and dressing dinner before Emily has to head back to Washington. Elise gets to stay with us until Christmas.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Holiday Pictures

I'm not through with Thanksgiving yet.

When we went to the nursing home to visit Roy at Thanksgiving, I was amazed at the size and color of these marigolds. Beautiful. And a bee too. They had already put in the winter/Christmas landscaping the next time we went, but I didn't have my camera.

This is the nursing home foyer before the tree was decorated. It's much prettier now.

Roy's magnifier - which keeps him up on the outside world - reading newspapers and cards, etc.

Again, more and better pictures next week now that he's settled in a little bit.

I've been slowly decorating around here a little bit but just a few things.


I planted the narcissus bulbs and the amaryllis bulbs the same day. I'm not sure what happened to the narcissus. They popped right up but seem to be just sitting there. I may have watered them too much since this pot has no drainage.

This amaryllis I love.

Usually the stems grow and grow until they're so tall they're almost tipping over, but this one grew a few inches and then started to bloom, the shortest I've ever grown.

And my crazy "Christmas" cactus. It's likely to put out a few blooms when you least expect it any time of year, but just for this occasion I got one bloom only.

A few more random pictures. Nothing like the beautiful mantels and table settings I love on the blogs I read, but just using what I already have, it's nice and cozy and pretty festive,

The small tree in the den. I have to say I enjoy this one more than the bigger one. But they both make me happy, the big one with all the memories and this one with where we stay most of the time.

Side door wreath. This is one of my favorites. Elise either bought it for me in Greensboro or bugged me until I bought it. The pears have a tendency to fall off now and then and seem to need a little glitter updating. These stockings! I made them in 1978 and have never been allowed to replace them. It was Emily's first Christmas, and she would stand beside me and sift her hands through the sequins while I worked. Fun times. I've tried to do similar ones for Stephanie and Ryan but never came close to the gaudiness of the originals.

And that's it. Wreaths hung outside and getting ready to make wassail and cookies in a few days.