Friday, December 21, 2012

Winter Solstice

Happy Winter Solstice Everyone and what a happy welcome it was for us Southerners on the first day of Winter. Brrrr! A nice 33 degrees this morning with a wind chill factor of 22 degrees. Can you say COLD?!? We've been getting use to the upper 60s for the past couple of weeks. All of the sudden, hello upper 40s for the high today.

We welcomed the Winter Solstice today with Katie staying at school for a half a day. She got home, got some lunch in our bellies, did a few small things and then we all took a nice little nap. Perfect for such a cold day. After our rest, it's time to decorate some COOKIES. Colton didn't want to touch the icing, so I iced the cookies what color he wanted (GREEN) and he put the sprinkles on them. LOL! He doesn't like anything yucky on his hands, arms, clothes, hair . . . I guess I should say anything on his person. LOL! I would have to say that Katie is a pro by now when it comes to decorating Christmas cookies. I don't have the pictures downloaded yet, so stay tuned for those pictures. We have to watch a Christmas movie. For some reason, they seem to really like "A Christmas Carol" this year. Thankfully, we had it recorded for them to watch at any time.

While they watched their movie, this momma got some truffles made and stored away. I've got our neighbor's gift basket finished. I've been doing a lot of baking in the kitchen this Christmas.

Reese Cup Cookie Recipe 
1 box Peanut Butter Cookie Mix
1 Large Bag Reese Cups (miniature size)

Mix up cookie mix according to directions on box. Roll up a ball about 1 inch round, put in mini muffin pan mash down and put a thumb print in middle. Bake according to directions on box, while hot put a reese cup in cookie. Cool some before you take it out of the pan.

Every year, I have requests to make my Holiday Red Velvet Cake Bon-Bons.  I bake a boxed red velvet cake (go by directions on box).  While the cake is out of the oven and cooled just a minute or two, mix the cake with cream cheese icing.  I dip the bon-bons in white almond bark chocolate and decorate with dark chocolate on top.  It is SOOOOO delicious!  Honestly, you can blend any baked cake with your favorite icing, dip it in chocolate and you've got a masterpiece. Because our favorite college football team is headed to the BCS Championship next month, I've dedicated my bon-bons to them.  I'm calling them "Crimson Tide Truffles" this year.  Tehe!!!

Crimson Tide Truffles aka (Holiday Cake Bon-Bons)
1 box cake mix (any flavor)(water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on cake mix box)
1 container frosting
3 oz. vanilla or chocolate-flavored candy coating

Heat oven to 350 degrees (325 degrees for dark or nonstick pan). Spray bottom only of 13x9" pan with baking spray with flour. Prepare cake mix as directed on box, using water, oil and eggs. pour into pan. Bake 30-33 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, crumble the warm cake; stir in the frosting until well blended. Refridgerate for 1 to 2 hours.

Drop mixture by teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheet. Shape into balls. (If mixture is too sticky, refrigerate until firm enough to shape.) Freeze 30 minutes.

In a small microwave-safe bowl, microwave candy coating on HIGH for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring until smooth. Dip the balls, one at a time, in candy coating using a wooden skewer or fork to hold them. Place on aluminum foil-covered cookie sheet. Decorate as desired. Refridgerate cake balls about 10 minutes or until coating is set. Serve at room temperature. Store in airtight container.

Like I said, you can take anything and dip it in chocolate.  Wah lah!  You have a quick, easy and tasty dessert.  I've made peanut and pecan clusters.  They are so yummy!

I do have a new Sugar Cookie recipe that I must pass along to you.  I stumbled upon it on Pinterest.  The description grabbed my attention.  It's amazing, anything that says "you'll never try another recipe" will always make me stop and read the recipe.  Of course, I'm intrigued to try it out.  Well, this recipe is a very good recipe and will keep it in my box for future occasions.  The recipe was posted and pinned by Home is Where the Holmans are.  Below is the recipe:

Soft and Thick Sugar Cookie

1 18 oz box white cake mix with pudding in the mix
2/3 cup flour
2 large eggs
1/3 cup canola oil
2 T sour cream (I used reduced fat)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, stir together cake mix and flour. Add eggs, oil and sour cream and mix on medium speed until incorporated. Batter will be fairly stiff. Use a cookie scoop or roll into approximately one inch balls and bake on a baking sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment paper. This will help keep the bottoms of the cookies from browning. Use the heel of your hand or a glass dusted with sugar to gently flatten cookies to about a half inch thick. You don't want the bottoms to be browned or you've over baked these. Bake approximately ten minutes until just set. Let cool about one minute on the pan and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 T heavy cream
1 T vanilla extract
3-4 cups powdered sugar
1 T meringue powder
Food coloring or sprinkles as desired

Beat butter on medium speed for about two minutes until smooth. Add cream and vanilla and beat about one more minute to incorporate. Add sugar, one cup at a time mixing on low speed until incorporated until you reach the desired consistency. Add meringue powder (this will help your frosting crust so that you can stack the cookies without smearing your frosting all over the place, I use a sheet of wax or parchment paper in between layers). You want the frosting to be fairly stiff so that it doesn't run off your cookies. Frost cooled cookies and decorate as desired. Store cookies in an airtight container.

I whipped up two batches of these cookies, so simple to mix together and throw in the fridge for whenever you need them.  I used cookie cut-outs for the first batch.  I rolled the dough about 1/4" thick and cut.  As far as piping frosting: this recipe makes very thick icing.  You will have to play with how much water you want to add to the frosting when it comes to thickness.  I would strongly suggest that you add a tablespoon or two if you plan on piping, even if you want it thick.  It's too thick to pipe.

I love to bake and it is a good way to wear the energy out of you.  Woo Boy!  There was a few days that I was in bed and asleep by 8:30-9:00PM.  If you know me, it's just not me to go to bed this early.

As soon as daddy came home tonight, we went to the Live Nativity that some friends of ours sponsored  from their new church that has recently started up.  It was great!  We met at the town hall and took a bus to the park, where the nativity is set up.  They offered hot chocolate and cookies before the bus picked you up.  It was cold outside and we really didn't know what to expect.  I was so happy that Katie got to ride the bus and share this experience with her school teacher Mrs. M.  We had the opportunity to see a lot of people that we haven't seen in a long time.  Lot of catching up to do.  After the production, the children had the opportunity to pet the animals.  They had llamas, sheep, alpacas, miniature cows and donkeys.  A nice wide range of animals.  Thankfully, they did have heaters set up in a few areas, in order to warm up for a bit.  Katie and Colton LOVED petting the animals and it's something they will remember.  Katie wanted to pet the llamas, but I discouraged her because they just didn't look very nice.  "But mom, I want to pet a llama because I was in the llama class last year" she begged me.  They had a baby llama, but as soon as I would get close enough to it it's ears would go back and it would turn it's head away from me.  I'm not messing with it and I told Katie that llamas can be mean.  I'd rather her be upset not getting to pet a llama than not have any fingers left on her hand.  The alpacas and sheep were adorable and they seemed to enjoy being loved on.

We ended our wonderful Winter Solstice day by fulfilling one of our family traditions.  The children get to have a slumber party by the Christmas tree tonight.  They really love doing it!  We make a huge pallet on the floor, right by the lighted Christmas tree and they get to watch a Christmas movie, "A Christmas Carol."

I will have to post about Katie's school party and Christmas vacation and traditions pictures at another time.

Enjoy and have a wonderful starry cool Winter Solstice night to you.  

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