Friday, December 26, 2008

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year...

Ah, Christmas...the joy, the time spent with family and friends, and THE BAKING. Holiday baking has got to be one of my all-time favorite past times (big surprise), and this year is no exception. Typically the Christmas season inspires me to make a multitude of cookie varieties, for the holidays are the perfect excuse to try out new recipes I've been eyeing. Still revved up from my sugar cookie-making high, I decided that decorated sugar cookies must be on my list this year. That and my favorite "top secret" gingerbread cookie recipe. I honestly thought I would save time by not doing my traditional cookie glaze/piped decorations, opting to go the buttercream and colored sugar sprinkles route. Wrong. The time commitment ended up being pretty much the same, with the added benefit (some might say downfall) of the cookies being a tad on the sweet side. Frosting AND sugar? Can we say overkill?

In keeping with the sugar-sprinkled theme, I topped my gingey boys with coarse sparkling sugar. This of course had nothing to do with the fact that I inadvertently omitted the brown sugar from the recipe, as evidenced by the discovery of my unopened carton of sugar while cleaning up :( They still turned out pretty good though, but not exactly like everyone remembered.
And last but certainly not least...FRUITCAKE. There seems to be two distinct camps regarding this much-maligned holiday treat: adore or detest, and no one on either side can comprehend how anyone can possibly stand on the other side of the fence. As for our family, we fall into the "adore it" category. This is my second crack at fruitcake, the first was using Alton Brown's recipe which calls for dried fruits in lieu of candied. Good? Yes. But not what we were looking for, so this year I happened upon a recipe in our local newspaper, and it was a hit at our family gathering. So there you have it, in all its rum-soaked, glowing neon fruity glory.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

"Mmm...Tastes Like Chicken Christmas"

You know, for a blog that's supposedly "Powered by Cupcakes" I sure haven't delivered on any as of late. But don't worry--I took care of that today:

May I present to you my "Rudolph Red Velvet Cupcake," complete with festive sprinkles and a handy mascot. Yes, I realize the picture's a bit blurry. And yes, I realize that's actually a plush moose with a BROWN nose...but you get the point. :) Perfect holiday flavor + best Christmas show ever = awesome!

Also making an appearance today are Eggnog Cupcakes, adorned with snow-capped candy Christmas trees (in homage to the rare bit of snowfall we got last week in Louisiana). Is it weird that while not a fan of actual eggnog, I absolutely adore all things eggnog-flavored? 'Cause these are delicious and pack a rummy-nutmeggy punch to boot!

Ummm... will you just look at those insane penguin toes up there?!?! Beyond cute.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Mexico Bound

Our Church is holding a bake sale this weekend to help raise funds for our Easter mission trip to General Cepeda, Mexico...and of course I had to join in on the fun! I don't know about you, but I just love--no, make that LOVE--bake sales :) Pictured above are: (clockwise, from upper left) Brownie bites, Neapolitan Bundt cake, Marshmallow Krispie Treats, Pretzel Kisses, Lemon Bundts, Pretzel Hugs, and Eggnog Bundts. Yum!

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Anyone who's ever been to my house between the months of November and January has seen the ridiculous spectacle of Christmas decorations my folks enjoy setting up. "Over the top" doesn't even begin to describe it, but thankfully this year my dad decided against putting up the colorful blinking light display on the exterior. Let's just say that we've become known as "the people with that Christmas House." Anyway, to help me get into the holiday mood, I decided to start some Christmas cookie baking. Above you'll see cranberry orange cookies, made with fresh cranberries that didn't make into the Thanksgiving sauce. Below are Rainbow Cookies (a.k.a. Spumoni Cookies), which sport maraschino cherry, chocolate, and pistachio layers. Very Christmasey :)

A Thanksgiving Feast...For the Eyes!

Holidays at my house usually means we'll be feasting an unusual mix of Vietnamese and classically American dishes. After all, what's Thanksgiving without my mom's crab & asparagus soup nestled against plates full of green bean casserole and cranberries? Most people eagerly look forward to trying to fit in that teeny little slice of pumpkin pie after stuffing themselves to the brim on the main meal--but us? We're Jell-O® folks through and through. Usually it's the "Crown Jewel" dessert (a spectacular mix of gelatin cubes suspended in a gelatin and Cool Whip® mousse, all encased in a ring of pound cake slices), but this year I decided to go with the "Rainbow Ribbon." Is it the shimmering layers of color or the mesmerizing soft wobbliness that intrigues me so? I think it's both.