All growing up, a good friend of ours used to host a party at her house on the afternoon of New Year’s Day. It was so nice to gather after the rush of Christmas and the craziness of New Year’s Eve, and just chat, put together puzzles, watch football, whatever. It was such a relaxing way to celebrate the end of the holidays.
It was potluck, but she would always make this amazing pot of stew. My stew is not the same as hers, but I have tried to carry on her tradition with my own recipe.
I can never find enough uses for condensed milk. My favorite part of baking with it is eating whatever doesn’t slide out of the can.
Last year I made white hot chocolate with candy cane stirrers for my friends. It was a hit, so I thought it might be fun to adapt a fudge recipe to the flavors of white chocolate and peppermint, thus utilizing another can of pure heaven.
When my husband and I were married a little over a year, we moved to the Big Island of Hawaii. For the first month, we didn’t have a car, and had to walk everywhere in the June sun with a little pale, blond baby. The one redeeming thing on our walks was the Big Island Candies store. It was air conditioned, and had the most amazing shortbread cookies. For mail order, you have to order the cookies in these nice boxes, but if you went to the actual store, you could buy them by the bag. And eating through a bag of them in one sitting was not difficult.
When I saw I had some macadamia nuts in the freezer, I thought it would be fun to recreate them.
I want to announce that I just got back from the women’s shelter after delivering a huge trunkful of toys. Thank you so much to everyone who donated, and thank you to everyone who participated in your own communities.
I’m surprised I didn’t think of doing an online auction of the cookies. That would have been a whole lot easier. Next year, maybe.
I discovered the limitless possibilities of meringues when I was a kid and my friend came to school with one filled with M&M’s. I loved how the crispy cookie was chewy on the inside, and filled with something you couldn’t see from the outside. I wanted these to look really pretty for Christmas, so I filled them with something small and fine enough that could be piped through a large star tip. (Wilton 1M). If you want to fill them with something larger, just spoon them out onto the parchment paper instead of using a pastry bag.
This picture always makes me so happy. It was taken a couple years before the following story.
Well, yesterday, I was feeling all joyful, so I took my two younger kids to the local T.J.Maxx and filled up the cart with all kinds of things for a toy drive at a local women’s shelter. When they both threw major tantrums (akin to the aforementioned fit in the humilimom post), I had no choice but to leave the cart at the store. The workers had to put everything away, which I am sure was a pleasure after the two screaming kids had finally exited. Now I will have to go shopping again. This time, without the children.
These little traditional Jewish cookies are so festive. Filled with nuts and fruit, their complex flavor will liven up any holiday cookie assortment.
They’re a bit messy, but this recipe makes a ton, so your kitchen will be in shambles only until you roll them all up and bake them off or freeze them.
Lots of people like these with chocolate. If you’re one of those people, just replace the juice and currants with mini chocolate chips. (Which, by the way, I haven’t seen in the stores for ages. If you know a good brand, please post it in the comments for everyone to see.)
The kids and I started this tradition about five years ago. Once the tree is up, we turn off all the lights in the living room and turn on the lights to the Christmas tree. In the glow of the twinkle lights, we curl up on the sofa and read Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Admittedly, it’s a bit rough on the eyes, but completely worth it. Atmosphere is everything, and when my children are grown, they will remember how they felt as we read this much loved story.
Though Dickens’ language is a bit complex for my little guys, I believe the more exposure they have to such language, the more naturally they will grow accustomed to it over time. In this edition, the illustrations by P. J. Lynch are lush and expressive, and very helpful when the kids are struggling to understand the words.
I thought these little stars would be a fun adaptation of shortbread.
Since the dough doesn’t have any eggs, it will keep in the fridge for at least a week, and then you just roll out a few whenever you need them.
I got that little gift box at Pier 1 for about 50 cents.
About forty years ago, my parents clipped a recipe from the Philadelphia Inquirer called “Philly Pound Cake.” I think my dad has made several batches of these amazing cream cheese pound cakes every year since then. He still makes them as gifts for co-workers, friends, and the mailman. Sometimes he keeps them on hand in the freezer as emergency presents when someone shows up unexpectedly to our house with a gift in hand. Whenever he makes a batch, they all get wrapped up, minus one. That one sits on on the counter with a knife nearby, and everyone can walk by a slice off a piece.
One year, when my family visited my parents for Christmas, I walked by the kitchen and noticed several grisly incisions in the pound cake and a butcher knife sunk into the top. Next to the counter was the kitchen stool. Evidently, my two-and-a-half-year-old had helped himself to a piece.
I am very sorry to say that after four daring attempts, I have been unsuccessful at developing a recipe for pomegranate Turkish Delight. I was going to have this big Narnia celebration, and we were all going to be so happy.
Forgive me, Connie! And thank you to my good friend Marcia who toiled with me in my kitchen on attempt #3.
Well, today is the release of Prince Caspian. I bought the Three-Disc Collector’s Edition this morning. I used to say that if I were a teenager, I would have a crush on Peter. Who was I kidding? I have a crush on King Peter.
For all of you who are smart enough to just buy Turkish Delight, I did find Loukoumi, the New Zealand company that made the candy Edmond ate in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. They have a bunch of flavors, including pomegranate. Click here to go to their American distributer.