Tag Archives: Christmas

It Wouldn’t Be Christmas Without Homemade Pizzelles!

recipeI think I’ve mentioned this before, but I come from an Italian-American household. And, as you can imagine, there are a lot of traditions, and, specifically, a lot of food traditions. There was always the Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve, soup and pasta always made an appearance with the turkey on Thanksgiving, and, for almost any celebration, pizzelles took center stage. Thankfully, pizzelles still take center stage for Christmas.

In case you aren’t familiar with pizzelles, they are a delicate, waffle-like cookie, usually flavored with anise seeds, anise extract, or anisette. They are made in a pizzelle iron, similar to a waffle iron, cooking 2 at a time, and they are delicious.

Once again, for the recipe, my great-aunt isbutter and sugar the winner. My mom has a lot of different recipes. If you look in her file box, you’ll see cards for Mommom Phil’s pizzelles, or Aunt Antoinette’s pizzelles, or Mommom Bobbie’s pizzelles, but, I have to admit, Aunt Angie’s is the best. You may remember her as the excellent baker with the killer pie crust recipe!

To start, cream 1 cup softened butter with 1 1/2 cup sugar. Next, add 6 eggs, 1 at a time, mixing to combine before adding the next. Then, add 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1 teaspoon anise seeds. eggsoilvanillaanise seedsAnd now, a note about anise seeds. For my mom and most of my baking relatives, there is no question, anise seeds are the way to go with pizzelles. They give the cookie a subtle liquorice flavor. However, if you prefer, you could use anise extract (although use it sparingly) or anisette. You could also add more anise seeds if you prefer, but I find the teaspoon works well.

baking powder and flourOnce the wet ingredients are all combined, add 4 teaspoons baking powder and 4 1/2 cups flour. I usually add the flour in 2 stages so I don’t make a huge mess, but feel free to combine however you prefer.

That’s the recipe. It’s very easy, and comes together very nicely. For the next part, you need a pizzelle iron. If you have never used one, they are very easy to use, but it does take some time to cook the pizzelles.

batterStart by plugging in your iron to heat it up. Once it’s hot, add about 1 teaspoon batter to the middle of each form. Press down, and allow to cook for just under a minute. You want the pizzelles to be light in color but cooked through. When you open them, the pizzelles sometimes fall right out. If they stick a bit, just use a fork.

pizzelle ironopencookingdoneThis recipe makes about 90 pizzelles, and trust me, you’ll fly through them.

I hope you enjoy your holiday desserts as much as I’ll enjoy these pizzelles. I’m sure there’s a tradition or two out there…feel free to share. And have a very Merry Christmas! Enjoy the time with family and friends…I know I will!ready to eat

Hot Chocolate…Adult Style!

oh Christmas treeThe halls have been decked. The weather outside is frightful. And I’m ready for Christmas. After a wonderful Thanksgiving, I got right on it and decorated the house for Christmas. We’re very festive over here, and the holiday spirit is running over.

We’ve also been experiencing some chilling rain and messy weather. So, during those days, the perfect drink is hot chocolate, and nothing is better to warm you up than a “grown up” hot chocolate!

chocolate chipsFor this recipe, I took inspiration from Sandra Lee. It’s a creamy, peppermint hot chocolate, with a nice little kick. It’s also incredibly easy! Sandra’s recipe is a slow cooker recipe, but I just made it on the stove.

To start, combine a 12 oz bag semi-sweet chocolate chips with 3 12 oz cans evaporated milk in a sauce pan. Heat on medium-low heat, stirring, until the chips melt and everything is hot and combined. You’ll want to get a little simmer.

liquorOnce you have a creamy mixture, take the pan off the heat. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/2 cup white chocolate liquor (I used Godiva), and 1/4 cup peppermint schnapps (Dekuyper). Stir to combine, and you’re done.

It’s warm, creamy, and delicious. Give it a try one of these cold nights, and enjoy the Christmas season. Before you know it, it will be gone!hot chocolate

 

Pumpkin Pie for the Holidays

Thanksgiving just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie. It’s a great way to end the holiday meal.  And, if we listen to the songs, pumpkin pie works for Christmas as well:

I met a man who lives in Tennessee
And he was heading for Pennsylvania
And some homemade pumpkin pie 

shellSo, it’s no surprise that I’ve made my share of pumpkin pies. I’ve also made several for friends and family. After tasting the pie, many people have asked me for my recipe, and I always chuckle. For me, the tried and true recipe is Libby’s. That’s right, I use the recipe right off the can, but it works! This year, like every other, I made Libby’s famous pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving.

To start, whisk together 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, and 1/4 teaspoon cloves in a large bowl. Add 2 large eggs to the mixture and whisk to combine. Add 1 15 oz can pure pumpkin. Next, add 1 12 oz can evaporated milk and whisk to combine.sugar and spiceeggspumpkinevaporated milkall combinedFor the pie crust, I use my standard pie crust recipe. I roll out the crust the crust before making the filling.  Line a greased 9 inch pie plate, and crimp the edges. Place in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

ready for the ovenPlace the pie plate on a cookie sheet close to the oven. Pour the filling into the shell, and bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, reduce the temperature to 350 degrees, and bake 40-50 minutes longer until a knife comes out clean from the center. Oh, and one trick to cover up the knife holes, cut out some extra pie dough using a festive cookie cutter (leaf or pumpkin), and bake for about 10 minutes until golden. Just place it on top, and your pie looks perfect.

If you haven’t tried this simple recipe, give it a try. It’s so easy, and so good. I’ve also tried making the pie from fresh pumpkin, and it just wasn’t worth it. Go for the can, and enjoy.

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and are ready for a fabulous Christmas season!

Simple Holiday Decorating Idea…in January!?!

OrnamentI know, I know, it’s January 10th, why am I talking about holiday decorations?  But as I think about taking down the Christmas decorations (and yes, I said “think about” not “start” or even “remember” because I keep delaying and delaying, I hate the take down part), I wanted to share a simple decorating idea I did last year.  I think it’s really easy, but I can’t tell you how many people commented and complimented!

The first thing I did was search for the branches.  Even though I thought this would be the easy part, this actually took some work.  The yard failed me…nothing was right.  I wanted something think to showcase the ornaments, and it had to be stripped of leaves.  So then I thought I would just buy them, but after going to Michaels, A.C. Moore, and Jo-Ann Fabric, with no luck, I was starting to give up. Finally, a neighbor cut down a huge old tree, so I snipped some branches off the top and was all set.  Honestly, I think finding the branches was the most difficult part.

SuppliesThe next hunt was for a vase. I needed something that would hold the branches in place.  I settled on an old vase that was my grandmothers.  You can see how small the opening tapers to from the picture.

For the balls, I had these 24 ornaments for years.  I used to put them on the tree, but figured I’d try something different.  And I felt like I had too many ornaments for the tree anyway!  I like the matted finish of these too.  But use whatever you have or whatever you like.  And if you are like me and think 24 is way too many…you’re wrong.  In the end it was barely enough.

Bare BranchesOnce the supplies were together, the tricky part was getting the sticks in place.  It took some trial and error, and probably cursing, but in the end, it worked. Then just get those ornaments up and you’re set!

Like I said, pretty easy and great results.  You could even spray paint the branches white, or use ribbon instead of the hooks to hang the ornaments, but hey, I went for easy!

So…January 10th with a tree up, lights, everything.  I guess I should start taking things down.  I mean it is after the Feast of the Epiphany…the official end to the Christmas season…or at least that’s what I remember from my 12 years of Catholic school!  When do you take you’re stuff down? Or did you already…don’t judge me!