Quiet Christmas Day and Bonus Puppeh!

After a nice party last night, I’m ready to join Bixby in perfect relaxation pose. I do have plans to cook a Standing Rib Roast Dinner (recipe here). I think the sides will be mashed potatoes and roasted zucchini.  There are more than enough cookies to get us through to at least January. Yikes!

I roasted two heads of garlic earlier this week, to use in last night’s guacamole and today to season the roast. I may just add the rest to the mashed potatoes. Can’t have two much garlic. Yum.

Just before the guests arrived last night, I received a 6 week Scout picture after the jump:

But wait, there’s more! Click to read

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Perfect Pencil Tree

I decided this year that, because Bixby and Bailey loved to rough-house, I needed a tree I could tuck away and easily block off. So I snagged a pencil tree in October when they were on sale. It was bittersweet when I put it up…

I must say though, I really like the look of it and glad I made the jump to an artificial tree.

Christmas Cookie Exchange: A Few Holiday Favorites

Sunday is my annual cookie baking day with friends. Most of goodies are going into gift boxes, but I’ll hold enough back for my annual Christmas Eve dinner. This is the usual round-up.

Pictured above:

Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies, recipe here

Spritz Cookies, recipes and instructions for using a cookie press here.

Pecan Cookies, recipe below.  Much more below the fold.

But wait, there’s more! Click to read

Perfect Standing Rib Roast

Dinner menu (left to right) Cucumber Tomato Salad, Perfect Gravy, Standing Rib Roast, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Spinach Raspberry Salad.

This recipe came from Chef Michael Symon and I don’t think I’ve changed much, except I don’t use as much rosemary and thyme (about half). I’ve been using it for several years and every time it is perfect.

From Michael Symon on The Chew:

GARLIC & HERB CRUSTED STANDING RIB ROAST

1 standing beef rib roast (7 to 8 pounds, rack of ribs separated from roast)

4 cloves garlic (smashed and made into a paste)

2 sprigs rosemary (leaves removed and finely chopped, plus more)

4 sprigs thyme (leaves removed and finely chopped, plus more)

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 cups red wine

1/2 cup beef stock

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

Season the roast and rack of ribs with salt and freshly cracked pepper.

Remove the rib roast to room temperature 1 hour prior to roasting. Preheat the oven to 450ºF.

In a medium bowl, add garlic, herbs and 2-3 tablespoons olive oil, to form a loose paste. Coat the roast and ribs with the herb oil and season with more cracked black pepper. Using kitchen twine, tie the roast every 2-3 inches to secure shape.

In a roasting pan, place the rack of ribs with the ends pointing up. Place a few sprigs of rosemary and thyme on top of the rack. Place the roast, fat-side-up inside the rack of ribs so they act as a roasting rack. Pour the wine and beef stock in to the bottom of the pan underneath the roast.

Place in the bottom half of the oven and roast for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF and continue to cook for another 1 ½- 2 hours, or until the internal temperature of the roast is 125ºF for medium-rare. During the cooking process, baste the meat with the pan juices every 30 minutes. If the pan starts to get dry, add a little more stock or water.

Remove the roast to a cutting board to rest for 15 to 20 minutes. Separate the ribs and thinly slice the roast. Serve with pan juices.

Tip: for ultimate flavor, season the roast and let sit overnight in the refrigerator.

If you’d like some personal instruction, click here for video of Michael preparing it.



 

Christmas Eve Dinner Menu: Dessert Tray, Pt 2

Here is part two of the dessert tray – these are all gluten-free sweets. Easy to make, never know they are anything different from the floured desserts. I’ll post a photo of the full dessert tray later.

Peanutbutter cookie 6

Picking up a friend from the airport tonight – lots of delays have made for a long day. I’ll be packing a few of these cookies and hot tea for the drive home.

First up, I made a batch of these. They are melt in your mouth and so chocolaty. I love the dark chocolate cocoa powder, makes them not-too sweet.

Cooookie!

Full recipe is here.

Then I made a batch of these (pictured at top). So easy  – I made a double batch, hoping they last until Christmas Eve. Just in case, there will be the traditional Ice Cream Sundae Bar to back up all the cookies.

Peanut Butter Cookies

(makes 18)

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 egg

baking sheet

Cream ingredients together and drop by spoonful onto a baking sheet. Dip a fork in sugar and press down dough. Bake at 300 degree F for 10-13 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool ON the baking sheet.

I added chocolate chips to a few after I flattened them on the baking sheet. They were good, but it did make the cookie more fragile and they broke apart as I transferred them to the plate. So second batch got peanuts instead.

For Dessert Tray pt. 1, click here.



 

Friday Recipe Exchange: Holiday Sweet Treats, Something For Everyone

While I’m busy baking away today, here are some previous goodies from 2014:

Assorted Cookies1

Lots of cooking going on. And look what Santa dropped off early:

Mystery Machine

Just in time to hold the assortment of cookies I made this week. Most of them are going into gift boxes, but I’ll hold enough back for my annual Christmas Eve dinner.

Let’s get right to it. Pictured above:

Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies, recipe here

Spritz Cookies, recipes and instructions for using a cookie press here.

Not pictured because I still have to make them, Chocolate-Walnut Flourless Cookies, recipe here. I love these because you’d never know they were flourless and they taste like brownie bites.

Looking for side dishes for your holiday dinner? You can click here for a lot of different types. And for the pet lovers, Bixby posted an update here and here is photo evidence of how the cats torment him, try not to laugh, it hurts his feelings.

How about you, what’s on your menu for the holidays? Share your holiday traditions, both edible and otherwise.

Mexican Russian Pecan Cookies

Tonight’s featured recipe had a bit of a serendipitous beginning. I was having lunch with friend LFern and told her I was still working on what type of cookies I was going to make for my gift boxes. LFern mentioned she really liked Russian Tea Cakes. I’d never heard of them, so I googled, figuring I’d surprise her with them in her gift box. Turns out they are also called Mexican Wedding Cookies. Next day I was visiting friends Larilyn and Alton (not that one) and what do they bring out to go with the coffee? Mexican Wedding Cookies. Turns out Al calls them Mom’s Pecan Cookies and he shared his mom’s recipe with me. So no matter what you call them, they are tasty.

Pecan Cookies

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 ¼ cups flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup chopped nuts pecans
  • Powdered sugar for rolling

Preaheat oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Mix butter, ½ cup powdered sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add flour, salt and mix until the dough comes together. Stir in the nuts. At this point, I mixed by hand until the dough stuck together and was smooth.

Scoop about a tablespoon of dough, roll into shape and place on baking sheet

Bake cookies for 18-20 minutes until bottoms are just slightly brown. Remove from oven and cool for just a minute. Fill a small bowl with powdered sugar and roll each cookie in the sugar until coated. Place on a rack covered with wax paper (keeps the sugar mess to a minimum) to cool.

You have to roll them in powdered sugar while they are still hot, which hurts like hell for the first two, but after that, your fingers are coated in powdered sugar and it acts like a heat shield and you’ll be fine. Look, holiday gift baking isn’t for wussies. It’s an extreme sport.

After they cooled, I coated them with more powdered sugar for a festive look.

That’s it for…this year. We won’t have another recipe exchange until January. But I will be posting the recipes for Christmas Eve dinner between now and Christmas. The menu is: Roasted Cornish Game Hens, Smashed Potatoes, Cranberry Chutney, Spinach Salad, and an Ice Cream Sundae Bar.

Have a wonderful holiday, whatever you celebrate. Thanks for coming along for the ride – TaMara

Christmas balls