We’re at Ellen’s sister Ann’s for a few days, and on Christmas Eve day, we made more cookies, to add to the many varieties we already had from Ellen’s niece Ina, Ann, ourselves, and some of Ann and Dave’s friends. First up was Ann’s favorite, their Italian Pepper Cookies. “Don’t put that online,” Ann and Cristina said, “It’s a family secret!” I looked up “Italian Pepper Cookies” on Google and easily found a dozen recipes, none exactly the same, but most quite similar, so I don’t think the recipe is all that secret, but I won’t type it out here. Above, making the dough. Continue reading
Today we made the ball cookies that we both love. My favorite Christmas cookie is this one, Butterballs. Pretty simple batter, roll into balls, bake, and roll warm cookies in confectioner’s sugar.
Here they are, cooling. So delicious! Close to shortbread, but even more crumbly and buttery.
Then on to Ellen’s favorite cookies, the Mocha Nut Balls. The dark side of the ones above with coffee and cocoa added. Yum! Recipes for both are on THIS old blog post along with other favorites.
We also decided to try the date-nut bars again. The first batch tastes good, but it’s a gooey mess that is hard to eat, not really much like a cookie. This time we used twice the flour and half the dates. We haven’t cut and tasted it yet.
That’s it for this year, no shaped and decorated cookies. I guess we’re about over that. And when we go to Ellen’s sister Ann’s house, we’ll make some there with her anyway. Just between you and me, I do miss our gingerbread men…
Cranberry Relish, that is. I’ve written about this before, but I just made a batch, and can’t resist spreading the word about this extremely easy and delish side dish that is the perfect complement to turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy. There’s no cooking involved. You don’t even peel any of the fruit. Prep time is about 10 minutes. And I find it much tastier than any cooked cranberry sauce I’ve ever had. Above is Everything You Need. Not everyone has a food processor, but a blender will work, you just have to do it in smaller batches.
Here’s the recipe from the family cookbook I assembled in the 1980s, submitted by my Aunt Grace Forman, who left us this year. You can’t get much simpler than this! By the way, I use half a navel orange, so no pits to worry about, and today I used a Cameo apple. A tart apple is best, something you’d make pie with. And a good quality cinnamon like those from Vietnam is best.
Half the ingredients about to be chopped. I add the sugar and spices later, though you could add them here.
The finished relish, which will be refrigerated until we eat it on Thanksgiving. A day or two in the fridge helps the flavors blend and mellows the slightly harsh tang of the cranberries. You can add more sugar if you like, I did add a little extra, but it’s meant to be tart. Sweet and tart.
We have other dishes to make for the holiday: stuffed mushrooms, sweet potatoes, green beans with slivered garlic, pumpkin pie, and maybe more depending on how ambitious Ellen gets, but those for sure. I’ve got us off on the right foot!
As time goes by, we’ve given up some Christmas traditions, but we’re still making cookies on the weekend before Christmas. Here’s some trays of Mrs. Fields’ Gingerbread that we’re decorating with colored icing and candies, one of our favorites.
A closer look at one finished tray. New this year are little pearl candies that make great eyes and buttons, as well as tree ornaments.
Here’s my family favorite, Butterball cookies, from my mother’s recipe. Ellen did all the baking this year, I helped with decorating, washing dishes, and cleaning up.
New this year, another Mrs. Fields recipe Ellen wanted to try called “Party Time.” It’s a drop sugar cookie with chocolate chips and slivered almonds, not meant as a Christmas cookie, but a little colored sugar fixes that. Ellen was disappointed you can’t really taste the almonds, the chips are the main taste, but I like them a lot. The cookie consistency is excellent, no surprise from Mrs. Fields.
Ellen’s family favorite is another ball cookie, Mocha Nut, from her mother’s recipe, made with cocoa, instant coffee crystals (ground to powder) and walnuts. We used Starbucks this year, and they’re a little stronger in coffee flavor, but still great. Not real sweet, but tasty all the same.
That’s it for this year. Recipes for most of these are on THIS previous post.
Cranberry Relish! So easy, no cooking involved, and so much more flavor than canned cranberry jelly. You do need a food processor or blender, though. Directions and full recipe HERE. We make a double batch for both Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you who celebrate it!