Merry Christmas?

Another banner Christmas. We’re home, and quarantined, with a sick Lucy. I’ve tried to be upbeat about it, but honestly, it’s really not very fun. Lucy’s been sick since Thursday, poor dear. G and I are pretty wrecked from all the sleepless nights. The good news is, she’s definitely on the upswing. Unfortunately, it’s still pretty rough going. We’ll be having a rather impromptu Christmas dinner at home, causing me to brave the grocery store crowds yesterday (yikes!).

G joked that we’re making a tradition of being sick on Christmas. “Perish the thought”, I said! Although looking back, I can see one or both of was sick in 2005 AND 2006. And now 2007. One bright spot in my day is the new ice cream maker G got me, which is already chilling for its first use.

I’m sure hoping we’re all well again soon. That’s all I want for Christmas. Is that too much to ask?

Chocolate Peppermint Drop Cookies

Another recipe for cookies. These might be the world’s ugliest cookies. Consider yourself warned. But if you love chocolate and peppermint, these cookies will be right up your alley. They’re adapted from a recipe by Alice Medrich (is EVERYONE obsessed with her lately, or what? It seems every food blogger around is slowly baking through her recent cookbook). I might fiddle with the recipe a bit if I make them again- perhaps Andes mints would be less messy than the peppermint candies? No matter, they’re very chocolate-y, and festive. I’m even going to bring them to a brunch tomorrow. Hopefully everyone will try them regardless of appearances!

Chocolate Peppermint Drop Cookies
Source: slashfood.com, adapted from a recipe by Alice Medrich

1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup cocoa powder (unsweetened)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup plain yogurt (whole, lowfat or fat free)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup crushed peppermint candies

Preheat oven to 350F.

Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.

In a large, microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter in the microwave at a low heat. Stir in the cocoa powder and both sugars, then stir in yogurt and vanilla extract. Working in two or three additions, stir in the flour and mix until just combined. Add in the crushed peppermint.

Drop 1-inch balls of batter onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Press down slightly to flatten.
Bake at 350F for 9-12 minutes or until set and slightly firm at the edges. Allow to cool on the pan for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 2 dozen.

In the Mood

I’m in the mood to bake. That urge strikes me rarely these days, but it’s no surprise that its come at Christmastime. Last weekend, I made a batch of these pecan pie bars. They were a hit at the party I brought them to. I even ate some the next morning for breakfast. Along with a mimosa. Mmmm….only this time of year can I get away with that sort of thing, but it was just what the doctor ordered. In any event, the pecan pie bars….yum. Like pecan pie but with more of a shortbread base than crust. When you grease the pan, make sure you do a really good job getting the corners. I had a heck of a time getting them out of the pan. Many bars were sacrificed and I was forced to eat the crumbs. On second thought, maybe you don’t want to do such a good job greasing after all. I also think I undercooked mine just a tad. Make sure they’re really set when you remove from the oven or they’ll be really gooey and messy. Which isn’t the worst thing, really.

Pecan Pie Bars
Source: www.labellecuisine.com

Crust:
2 cups sifted flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, melted

Filling:
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
2 tbsp. butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups chopped pecans

Directions:
Heat oven to 350 F. Grease a 13×9 inch baking pan. In a large bowl, combine all crust ingredients. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until the mixture resembles corn meal. Press the crust mixture firmly and evenly into the prepared baking pan. Bake 20 minutes or until very light golden brown.

In a medium bowl, combine all filling ingredients and mix well. Pour the filling over the baked crust. Bake 25 to 28 minutes, or until the filling is set. Cool completely. Cut into 32 serving bars. Refrigerate. (Allow to come to almost room temperature before serving, then refrigerate leftovers).

Christmas Wrapping


L 1 (Paper Love Paper)
One of the things we did when on vacation in Scotland was to have a little night where we had Christmas early. Dinner out, close family opening presents. It was warm-up for Lucy’s appreciation of wrapping paper this season. See the photos here.
This is the last collection of photos from the Scotland trip, to recap we have:

  1. Early Christmas
  2. Wedding Reception
  3. Visiting Friends
  4. Scotland Holiday

And yes, they are mostly Lucy. However they are 50/50 taken by G & D.

Home Again

We’re just coming up for air again. 8 days in Scotland, followed by 2 busy work days and my company holiday party. Our sleep schedules are completely out of whack and we have barely had time to unwind. And now it’s the weekend, which doesn’t necessarily mean we get to relax. On the agenda is several holiday parties and getting a Christmas tree.

Our visit with G’s family went quite well. Brian and Laura’s wedding reception was great fun and Lucy only slightly eclipsed the bride with her stunning outfit. G will hopefully get those pictures up soon. Grannie adored her and (much to our dismay) taught Lucy the Scottish art of “blethering”. Lucy did really well, but I don’t think I realized how much stress the extended travel placed on her. It finally caught up to her Wednesday morning at 4 am as we waited in line at the Edinburgh airport. She threw up everywhere and was clearly disoriented. Poor sweet thing. She was fine after that, but it really hit me when we got home. Her personality changed and she clearly felt more relaxed in her own environment. She spent quite a while just crawling in circles through the rooms of our first floor.

Similarly, I’m happy to be back in my own bed. G and I shared some observations about the differences between cultures on our long journey home. In short, Britain has very expensive gas/petrol, a surprising affinity for potatoes, and some great, wee roads. Seattle/America has assertive (or bossy, depending on your perspective) people, enormous cars, and better food (sorry G).