Holiday Wrap Up

I can’t believe how quickly Christmas and New Year’s have come and gone! All that preparation and then *poof* into 2011 we go. It is my favorite time of the year so I am always a little sad having to face down the rest of winter and look forward to Winter Break in February!

I made more cookies this year (8 different varieties) than I ever had before. The last week of school was incredibly busy with baking every night and at one point my husband came home to have to step around cookies sheets cooling off on the floor just outside the kitchen in our apartment. All of my recipes this year came from: Martha Stewart’s Holiday Cookies magazine, Dorie’s Baking From My Home to Yours, the Sopranos Family Cookbook (no matter what you think of the show- the book has some GREAT classic Italian recipes), and the King Arthur Flour website where I found some great recipes (and ingredients!)

So where to start? From Martha I made: Chocolate Espresso cookies; Sugar cut outs (I subbed about a teaspoon of fiori di sicilia flavor for some of the vanilla- WOW!!!!!!); White Chocolate Covered Peppermint cookies (think of thin mints covered in white chocolate with peppermint pieces on top); and one of my personal favorites- Cranberry Coins. The cranberry coins were basically ice-box butter cookies with pieces of chopped dried cranberry. I wasn’t sure how they would come out but they were really tasty- and one of the favorites of the recipients of my cookie boxes for Christmas.  But back to my favorite secret ingredient for a minute- fiori di sicilia is a citrus flavoring. I used it for the first time in my cut outs and the aroma is incredible alone. Just a little less than a teaspoon really took this cookies to another level and even after they baked you could still smell the citrus. Just amazing. I want to go make a pound cake just to use it again!

Purchase fiori di sicilia here

Two of my favorite cookies to bake for Christmas from BFMHTY are the World Peace cookies (which I ended up making twice because my husband has very little restraint around them) and the Thumbprints for Us Big Guys. I always make thumbprints for Christmas because it seems like the Christmas thing to do. To be honest? I think they are such a pain. I hate how the jam always sticks to the wax paper. These are the things that drive me nuts 😉 But I do like how much versatility you have with jam flavorings- of course I went for the raspberry/hazelnut option. The rest of my cookies included Pignoli cookies (from the Sopranos) and I learned that these by far are the stickiest cookies in the world! It was my first time making them and I know it made my Mom happy. Next year I’ll add the rainbow layer cookies to my Italian cookie collection. And to wrap things up for good measure I also made a chocolate amaretti torte!

I made these Egg Nog muffins from King Arthur Flour for my husband to bring in to work and they were spectacular! Even if you are not a fan of egg nog you should consider making them. They weren’t overly egg nog-y, if anything they were incredibly moist. I didn’t use the optional egg nog flavoring, just vanilla.

And I think that wraps things up! Wow that was a lot of baking over a few short weeks! Thanks for sticking with me through this recap. Looking forward to all the baking 2011 has in store! Happy New Year!

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TWD: Catch up!!!

The last month has been a complete blur and even though I have been baking along, I don’t know where the time has gone for posting my recipes. Now that the first quarter is over with the school year, I would love it if things could calm down a little bit! We’ll see!

So my first catch up recipe were the Coffee-Break Muffins that were selected by Rhiani of Chocoholic Anonymous. These muffins could not have been yummier! I had purchased espresso powder from King Arthur over the summer so I was super excited to finally get to use it. I also mixed in some bittersweet chips and it was an awesome combination. Definitely a keeper recipe! I would love to get my hands on a bag of espresso chocolate chips again and see how well they work with this recipe, or if it is espresso overload!

My second catch up recipe was the double apple bundt cake which was selected by Lynne of Honey Muffin. I really love bundt cakes and was so excited to make this now that apple season is exploding. I used honeycrisp apples just because I love them so very much- they may not be the best apples to bake with compared with others but I just can’t get enough of them! I made this recipe late at night during the week because I was just itching to bake something to deal with the stress of work and this came out perfectly. Delicious for breakfast and then even more delicious for several days later!!!!

TWD: Allspice Crumb Muffins

All spice crumb muffins!

This week’s recipe was chosen by Kayte of Grandma’s Kitchen Table and they were delicious!

I made them for a Sunday morning breakfast, and even though I was a little short on brown sugar- they were still very yummy! They reminded me of my favorite Drake’s coffee cakes (which I can’t get here in Atlanta!).

Thanks for a great choice this week!

TWD: Savory Corn & Pepper Muffins

cornmuffs

It’s not often that I get to bake after work, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to make these corn muffins since my husband was making his chili for dinner!

I love muffins in general because they are so quick to make (and easy to clean up) and I also saved time with this recipe since my husband chopped the cilantro (one of his favorites!) and the jalapeno. 

The muffins turned out to be delicious (as my husband predicted they would- “these are going to be hot” was repeated over and over as I was mixing the batter). We ate them plain although I would have loved to eat them with some creamy butter. I was also fantasizing about how good they will be with some fresh, sweet summer corn. We ended up only eating a few with our chili (which was a perfect combination) and the rest are safely frozen, awaiting their turn! Thanks to Rebecca of Ezra Pound Cake for this selection!