Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cookies & The Holidays!

We spent Thanksgiving at my Mom's house. The girls and I drove up early in the day because it turned out the annual Falmouth football game (the team my son plays on) was in Barnstable this year and I didn't want to arrive even later than expected. I know it takes a lot of work to prepare such a big meal.

The boys drove up at the end of the game. It was not a win for Falmouth. But, my son played hard and gave it his all throughout the entire season. I'm proud of him and of course it's nice to win but like most things in life it's really about how you play the game that in the end matters the most.

When I got back to Falmouth their was such a nice message waiting for me from a woman who ordered a couple dozen of my Celebration Cookies for her Thanksgiving meal. The message said, "words can't even describe how awesome your cookies taste". I love the feedback. I always try to bake the way I want my son to play the game of Football. I put care and attention to each batch I place in the oven.

As for the Holidays, I decided to get up early this morning to pre-make batches of my "Nana's No Fail Sugar Cookie" Recipe. It'll freeze well and it'll make my life so much easier to have that done and ready long before my "Cookies & Cocktails" party that's planned for the twelfth.

I also hope to get my Tree, lights and decorations done today partly because Sophia thoroughly enjoys Christmas and I think having it up now will make the whole season that much more magical for her.

I miss the feeling of total magic that Christmas can bring especially when your still as young as Sophia is. It seems like such a small but precious gift I can give to her simply by taking care of the decorating now. She loves to help with putting the ornaments on the tree.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving to You!

The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.
Thich Nhat Hanh

Monday, November 22, 2010

Synchronicity, Cookies & Gratitude

Last week, I asked my Freshman English Composition students to write about an act of kindness they performed without expecting anything in return. For the few who couldn't think of anything immediately I suggested they come up with something they might do for someone throughout this holiday week. I reminded them of the movie "Pay it Forward" and how acts of kindness are an extension of gratitude a fitting topic for Thanksgiving.

I baked three batches of Celebration Cookies after dinner tonight. Bella says it's her all time favorite cookie. They really are good with pieces of cranberries, blueberries and white chocolate. It's my own creation- I was inspired to make them while watching Fireworks this past summer over Falmouth Heights.

I made them to fill a baking order. I made extras to have on hand if unexpected company stops by over the Holiday. I was so disappointed to hear my husband was going to work both Friday and Saturday of the Holiday week so hopefully friends will stop by to say hello. If not, the girls and I will embark on our own adventures.

As for synchronicity, I unexpectedly ran into a long ago friend at a High School Reunion on Saturday that I haven't seen or talked to in years. It was a lot of fun to catch up and create new memories. In some ways it felt like the twenty something years haven't even passed by.
I think what makes the moments of synchronicity so special is the hope that the connection will continue.

I brought the reunion hostess a gift of my jumbo chocolate chip cookies with a hint of peanut butter, celebration cookies and cranberry biscotti dipped in white chocolate because I know she worked so hard to pull it all together. She sent a note saying how much she enjoyed it.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Fun with Fillo! ( Phyllo)

Tonight's our monthly book club meeting. I always look forward to getting together with these particular friends. An added bonus is how fantastic and fabulous the food usually is. We rotate houses for hosting and each member brings an appetizer to share.

I found mini phyllo shells on sale at Roche Brothers grocery store in Mashpee and I bought several packages to keep in the freezer throughout the holiday.

For tonight, I decided to fill them with mashed sweet potatoes, goat cheese crumbles and pecans. I looked around my kitchen and fridge and out of what I had on hand that sounded like a good combination. If you're feeling adventurous (and have more free time on your hands than I do right now) read on for a good tip to bake your own mini pastry shells.

I'm including the recipe of what I'm making for tonight's appetizer because with Thanksgiving right around the corner you might like to give it a try too.

Sweet Potato, Goat Cheese & Pecan Pastries

1 package of pre-made mini phyllo pastry shells
1 large sweet potato, peel, slice and boil until soft, then mash with 1 Tbsp. maple syrup and 1 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. Goat Cheese crumbles
1 Tbsp. chopped pecans

Place the Phyllo Shells on a baking sheet and fill with the mashed sweet potatoes, the goat cheese and then the pecans. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 8 minutes. Enjoy warm.

Baker's Tip: If you'd like to make your own pastry shells you can take a pie crust (either from scratch or a pre-made one from the refrigerator section) and cut 2 in. rounds. Take a mini-muffin tin and flip upside down. Place the 2 in. rounds on each upended muffin tin and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 8 minutes. Let cool, then follow additional directions above.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Party Invites, Out of Town Phone Call & Celebration Cookies!

I sent out my holiday party invites on Friday. I'm calling the party "Cookies & Cocktails". I remember last year I planned a Holiday Open House for couples and their families too and we got a major snow storm the night before the party and it turned out that many people were not able to make it because of the severity of the storm.
Luckily I have a number of friends that live within walking distance and we still managed a fun time. Although, I hope the weather cooperates this year.

Here's something fun: a woman who lives out of town and who subscribes to Cape Cod Magazine recently read my article, visited the blog then went to Amazon to order my book. She called me yesterday to ask a question about my recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cheesecake. Her phone call got me wondering: how have other's found my blog? I know a few people visit because of the labels I put on my baked goods all summer long at the Farm Store which includes the address.

As for Celebration Cookies, I'm accepting very few orders for Thanksgiving this year as I have my own baking to do not to mention I'm in the middle of my teaching schedule. However, I couldn't resist a friends request today to make her a couple of dozen of my Celebration Cookies for her Holiday party.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Best Laid Plans, Biscotti & A Cookie Party!

I decided to sneak out of my warm and cozy bed early this morning into the chilly air while Sophia was still fast asleep to get a bit of baking done. I enjoy the quiet of the morning to think and get a head start on my day.

As soon as I started down the stairs I heard Sophia climb out of her own bed and follow my lead. I thought of that Robert Burns poem that refers to the 'best laid plans'. It's like the other night when I'd hoped I'd reconnect with my teens over a fun board game but they had too much homework and it just never happened.

I cherish the time I spend in the kitchen with Sophia. I have the vague sense that years from now these are the times she will remember the most about me and our relationship. Yet, for today I'd hoped to get it started while she was still nestled in her bed because we already have a busy day planned. Let's face it I can move quicker on my own.

Yet, once we settled into a comfortable groove (and I let go of my idea for my 'best laid plans') we managed some of our most precious interactions yet. We chatted about things like how much we both love flour. She said, "I love how puffy and fluffy it is". I told her I agreed. Their is something about a big tub of flour that is so inviting and I love the way her and I share the simplicity of that.

We're baking Cranberry Biscotti with white chocolate. I am using my recipe that is included in "Meet Me in My Cape Cod Kitchen".

As for a Cookie Party, I've decided that sometime between now and Christmas I'm going to invite a bunch of women friends over for "Cookies & Cocktails".

I have tons of fun cookie cutters and a fabulous recipe for sugar cookies. I will serve my recipe for Holiday Cranberry Sangria and have a fire going in the kitchen fireplace. I guess as busy as the season can get I don't want it to pass without having a chance to connect with my girlfriends too.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Brownie's, Banana Bread & Game Night

It's been chilly around Falmouth lately. It was 30 degrees at the bus stop this morning. Brr!

It's been an amazing autumn this year with exceptionally bright shades of yellow, deep dark brown, red and purple leaves. The pictures offer a sampling of the colors from my morning walk and the view from our side yard.

I'm about to bake a batch of brownies the way the kids like them. I use double chocolate with a mix of cocoa and chocolate chips. I'm also baking a loaf of banana bread. The brownies are for dessert tonight. I love the smell in the house when I am baking two items at once, the chocolate and the banana bread together smells great. I think we'll all be home and I'll suggest playing one of my favorite games: Apples to Apples.
I'm baking the banana bread today simply because I have a few bananas that need to be used. It'll be nice before school in the morning tomorrow.