Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Cookie Time!

I think that for me the hardest part of being a military family is being away from home around holidays. I fear that Alyssa will miss out on some of the things that I enjoyed doing with my family (and I had a pretty big family with a lot of enjoyable chaos). I try extra hard to make sure that even though she doesn't have a great big, huge, loud chaotic family surrounding her that she still gets memories of all the fun things that I enjoyed growing up. My grandmother started letting us decorate Christmas cookies with her when I was a teenager and I really enjoyed it. The most memorable cookie was the one my sister and I made the year that I hit a deer with my car (yes I really did....poor baby deer, he died, we buried him and said a pray (for real...) remember I grew up in Alabama so hitting a deer is pretty likely) we made a Rudolph with a broken leg. It was pretty darn cute and a good way to honor poor Rudolph's memory, bless his heart. I want those type memories for Alyssa when she's older. She might not want to play with me anymore when she's a teenager but I hope that she'll look back at a box of cookie cutters when she's my age and has a little one and think of how much fun she had with her mama and want to do that with them (and hopefully with me too!!!)

Last year my Gran gave me her cookie cutters and I'm very proud to say that using her Sugar cookie recipe Alyssa and I made a big batch of Christmas cookies. Today we had my friend Terry and her adorable girls over to help us decorate them. I'm pretty lucky that I've found friends here in Texas that have truly become family to us. Here are some pictures of our decorating adventure today.

Kaci won the award for the cookie with the most sprinkles......and this one had A LOT of sprinkles!!!
Adding more...there weren't enough!!!!
Ashley's green hands (and mouth!!!)
Alyssa and her dirty hands (she probably ate 1/2 the container of sprinkles!)
And Viola! Our creations!! We had so much fun making them!
And because recipes are worth passing along here is Gran's Sugar cookie recipe. Both my Grandmother and my mother made these for us growing up and I'm really happy that now I get to make them for my own little girl and her friends.

Take Five Sugar Cookies
2 c Sugar
4 eggs
1 cup butter softened
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 1/2 to 7 cups of flour

Beat sugar and eggs together until light and fluffy. Beat into butter until mixed well. Add soda, vanilla, and half the flour. Mix well. Work in remaining flour to make a stiff dough (and it is VERY stiff). Roll it out and cut to make desired shapes. Place on well greased cookie sheets and bake 400 degrees 8-10 minute till lightly browned.

1 cup butter
2 tbsp milk
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Mix together until smooth.

Happy Christmas Cookie Decorating!

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Pumpkin Roll!!!!

My most requested dish is The Pumpkin Roll.....why? Cause it's fantastic! My sister got this recipe from my aunt and of course if she can make a pumpkin roll I can make a pumpkin roll as well! I make a lot of these and so does Amanda. I think she told me she had like 8 to make this holiday season. I mainly make them because Jamey's 'work wife' as I affectionately call her puts her request in from time to time and I whip one up and send it to work with him for her (all year round!). One for her to take home and one for everyone else at work. It's such a fantastic AND seasonally appropriate dish that I thought that I'd pass the recipe along. They are tasty, pretty simple to make and always a big hit! Enjoy!

Start with all of this.......
Whip it up into this...(spray your cookie sheet with Pam AND spray your wax paper before pouring in your batter)
Bake it till it looks like so....
Roll it so it looks like this....I made 4 yes I did!
And end up with this!
Yummy right? It is trust me!
And here is the recipe which makes 1 roll of high calorie goodness! (They don't count it's Christmas...)

Pumpkin Roll
2/3 cups canned pumpkin
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 flour

8oz cream cheese softened
1 cup powdered sugar sifted
2 tbsp butt softened
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Mix pumpkin, eggs, and sugar for 5 minutes. In separate bowl mix the dry ingredients then add dry mix to pumpkin mix and blend well

Grease cookie sheet with Pam and cover with wax paper (trial and error has taught me to also Pam my wax paper before pouring in my batter, you will be glad you did trust me). Place batter into pan and bake for 15 minutes
Let cool 5-10 minutes then remove from pan Cover with wax paper on inside Roll cake tightly and let sit for a couple of hours
Mix filling ingredients until well blended
Unroll cake and remove wax paper from interior side. Spread filling and roll tightly. remove wax paper from outside of cake and rewrap in wax paper and then wrap in foil. refrigerate until ready to serve

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sleeping Beauty and her white cat.....

My little love has a long history of napping with our fat cat Guinevere or "Gwenie" for short. Gwenie loves Alyssa...why we have no idea as Alyssa frequently drags her about by her tail, chases her around the house poking her with sticks and generally annoys her every chance she gets. Gwenie is 8 1/2 years old now. She's pretty chubby...ok she's fat...but she adores Jamey and Alyssa and they adore her. It makes the frequently masses of white cat hair all over the house worth the effort knowing that she adores us as much as we adore her.

Alyssa was about 6 months old here....

3 1/2 years later not much as changed....
Cute isn't he??? I know....I love that guy :)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Fondue madness!

In our home our favorite special occasion meal is cheese fondue with the trimmings! Saturday night we celebrated "Thanksgiving" and this is what Jamey decided that he wanted. Since Alyssa and I were out of town with my dad's surgery he spent Thanksgiving home by himself. It's always fun and we all enjoy fondue night. We do it on holidays, or birthdays and it's a blast! Alyssa is the official side eater/dipper. We occasionally do a chocolate fondue just for fun. I thought I'd share our favorite meal and the recipe as well.
Base is white wine and sherry with shallots (you could replace the alcohol with chicken or beef broth and get the same result)

A huge mound of cheese!
Steak and scallops just cause they are fantastic....
And our "dippers"
Here is the little dipper :)
And the finished product!
It's fantastic!

Wisconsin Trio Cheese Fondue

1 ½ C shredded Butterkäse cheese (6oz) [can be found at Whole foods, but you can also substitute Gouda if you can't find Butterkäse]
1 ½ C shredded Fontina Cheese (6oz)
3 Tbsp flour
¾ C white wine
¼ C dry sherry
2 tsp chopped shallots
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ C crumbled blue cheese
2 Tbsp chopped scallions

Toss the Butterkäse and Fontina cheese with the flour in a bowl. Place a metal bowl over a saucepan filled with 2 inches of water. You may also use a conventional double boiler. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and pour the wine and sherry into the bowl. Sit in the shallots using a fork. Cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.

Add half the cheese blend and cook until the cheese is melted, stirring constantly. Add the remaining cheese blend a small amount at a time, stirring constantly in a circular motion after each addition until the cheese is melted. Fold in the pepper and Blue cheese. Pour into a warm fondue pot and keep warm over low heat. Garnish with the scallions.

NOTE: The cheese is shredded and tossed with flour to aid din thickening and to improve the viscosity of the fondue. The fondue should be the consistency of warm honey when completed. Monitor the cheese carefully as it is being added. Not all of the cheese may be needed, and, in some cases, more cheese may be needed to reach the perfect consistency.

Recommended dipping accompaniments: Variety of breads, green apples, mixed vegetables.