This past weekend, I did my first bit of holiday baking. I decided to mix up a batch of pizzelle cookies. I haven't made these cookies in several years and after listening to my sister talk about her baking extravaganza, I decided I would break out the old pizzelle iron once again.
Years ago, I would take the first weekend in December and bake up a storm. My sister and I would drive to my mother's house, ingredients in tow and spend the weekend baking. Sun up to sun down and more, we would make about a dozen different kind of cookies, along with nut roll (kolachy) and some candies/fudge. For some reason, we stopped getting together. I can't remember why, probably because one year we couldn't work the dates out and went out on our own in the baking frenzy. I eventually cut back on the amount of cookies made and at one time, just made one kind, but a lot of them to give away to friends and neighbors. It wasn't until I decided to host a cookie party a few years ago that I my family was able to enjoy a variety of cookies on their Christmas Cookie tray once again.
My sister however, has remained true and has mastered the holiday baking marathon. She takes two days and pounds out about a dozen varieties of cookies. (I usually count on her to bring dessert at Christmas.) She inspired me to bake a little more. So, in honor of her, my mother who gave me my first pizzelle iron and my Grandma Rosso who gave us the recipe, I am happy to share our pizzelle recipe.
Now, a lot of people don't like pizzelles because they have only tasted ones that are heavy on the anise flavoring. Anise is a crucial ingredient, but it is not the only flavoring we use. We have a special blend so to speak, that makes for a milder flavored pizzelle. A couple of other secrets, we don't store our cookies in an air-tight container. They get better as they age....we store them in a paper bag covered with a cotton dish towel. Don't ask me why- it's just the way it's done. And because the recipe makes so many cookies, you undoubtedly will have leftovers after Christmas. They are best served in the morning with coffee, for dunking if you prefer.
Grandma Rosso's Pizzelle's
1 1b butter (melted and cooled)
1 dozen eggs (yes...that is correct)
3 1/2 cups sugar
Mix these first three ingredients well, then add-
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tbl. lemon extract
2 tbl. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. anise extract
1/2 tsp salt
12 cups of flour ( I mix in 2 cups at a time)
Mix well with mixer in the largest mixing bowl you have...when done, roll into walnut sized balls and press in pizzelle iron. This recipe makes 12 dozen or so- and the bad news, you can only make two at a time. I usually press in iron for 30-45 seconds, until golden- but not brown. Cool completely before stacking and storing. (They will be soft but harden up as cooling.)
They look adorable package in cellophane bags and you'll be the hit of your neighborhood or office if you share these delights. I am a bit of a pizzelle snob, in that I won't eat store bought pizzelles, (I scoff!) or other people's pizzelles. I only like our family recipe. Which I might add, there was a bit of a family feud regarding the pizzelles. My grandfather's sisters (all 100% Italian) thought they made the best. Their cookie was a slightly crispier cookie. My grandmother's, (100% Hungarian married to a 100% Italian man) who developed her own flavoring (with the addition of the lemon extract) were a little thicker. although, I liked them both, I still prefer only our family pizzelles and am partial to ours.
**Special note- you must use a pizzelle iron. Available online or at any kitchen speciality store or any Italian speciality food store.
This holiday has been a balancing act with work, home and my husband convalescing from knee replacement surgery. I feel like a juggler with too many balls in the air. My good friend B and her family were supposed to come for a visit but due to their own work balance juggling act, (not to mention the weather God's not cooperating again)....they elected to stay put in New England.
I wish I could just roll up in a ball and blink everything done...but alas that's not how it works. I'm off to bake pies and start my side dishes. I wish everyone a blessed Thanksgiving holiday. I know I have much to be grateful for this year...I just wish I wasn't so tired.
I think that soup never goes out of style. I could eat soup for lunch and dinner every day- and not need any other side dishes, except for maybe some crackers or a piece of bread. My family disagrees. They think of soup as an appetizer or if we have it as a meal, they expect to see some sort of sandwich or meat and potato accoutrement. I am bound and determined to change their way of thinking. I started with soup boot-camp this week. I've made a different soup every day. They are ready to revolt.
Here's what I've made.
1. Chicken & Noodles. Simple, simple. Good, old-fashioned, comfort food.
2. Chili. Well, technically not a soup- it is soup like and can be found with the soups on a restaurant menu. This did get a good response since we could fancy it up with toppings like, diced onions and cheese. Usually I make corn bread to accompany it, but this time, good ole saltine crackers.
3. Sausage, Potato and Kale Soup. This is my new favorite. I found this recipe at the Pioneer Woman Website, Tasty Kitchen. It's supposedly the recipe from the Olive Garden version. I don't know about that, as I've never had this soup at the Olive Garden, but I can tell you it's DELICIOUS! This soup wins rave reviews from Beloved and Youngest. I've never cooked with kale before, frankly I've only ever seen it used as a garnish in deli cases and salad bars. The kale is our favorite part of this soup! Two thumbs up...
4. Aztec Chowder. This recipe does actually come from one of my favorite restaurants in Columbus, Ohio. It's a spin on chicken tortilla soup. It's spicy, thick and creamy. It gets its thickness from pureed navy beans. Yummy, yum. Well, while making this soup tonight, I had a revolt on my hands and had to make a side dish of spaghetti with an Italian sausage meat sauce. (Yes, I know the flavors don't really compliment one another, but I was working under pressure and had to come up with something quick in order to avoid a total meltdown, primarily from the husband.)
And now a fitting way to end a post on soup- a clip remembering "The Soup Nazi." Go to this link to view the Best of the Soup Nazi... http://youtu.be/M2lfZg-apSA. What's your favorite soup or soup story?
I love me a good cocktail, espcially if it's made with Vodka. Recently, I found these two Queens of Cocktail on the internet. They are in a word- ADORABLE! They seem to be exploding over the internet, podcasts and the Cooking Channel.
Enjoy this instructional video and Cheers! You can thank me later.
I know, you're thinking, didn't you just talk about what you've been reading? Why, yes I did. But there are always books to be read and discussed. DISCUSSED being the key word. We have a new podcast up over here. You can also find it on iTunes, key word Deb and Beth. We are discussing our summer beach reads, among other things. Check it out....
One thing we do share is our love of ice tea/sweet tea. I'm going to share a new recipe for making a refreshing sweet tea with mint and ginger.
Brew the tea however you like. In a pot, with a tea kettle, ice tea maker, I use my coffee maker.
While the tea is brewing, make a simple syrup using equal parts sugar and water. I was making enough for 2 gallons, so I used 3 cups sugar and 3 cups water. Sweetness is purely up to your own tastes. Into the simple syrup mixture, I throw in mint leaves and sliced ginger.
Keep stirring until sugar dissolves and then keep it on a simmer for about 15 minutes to let all the flavors infuse. Once tea is brewed, mix in syrup portion (after straining mint and ginger, of course.) Pour over ice and enjoy. This truly is refreshing and a twist on your normal sweet tea.
Glass on the left is the green sweet tea and the right is normal sweet tea. (just to show you the difference.)
Be sure to check out my other blog where you can find a library of all our podcasts.
I'm about to embark on the Cake Ball (or Pop) brigade again, as it will be Youngest's Birthday on Friday. She asked to bring those in for her treat at school again.
Ordinarily, no problem, however this week has been extremely over the top in evening activities and I find myself behind in the production.
Remember last year?
Well, that's what it will be looking like tomorrow night. That being said, guess who else has Cake Pops on the menu now?
"Ever since Barman "Willie" concocted the first Margarita around 1934 for Marguerite Hemery in Mexico City, the cocktail has lubricated many a drunken bachelorette party, cruise, Cinco De Mayo and backyard BBQ."
Kind of interesting that National Margarita Day is in February....because to me nothing says summer like a margarita. Or as my my dear dad says- "Who wants a Margie!" (hard "G".)
Personally, in my single lady days, it was my drink of choice. I was more of a purist, and preferred it on the rocks with salt, of course.
Nowadays, I only enjoy them when eating at a Mexican restaurant. And quite honestly, they don't like me as much as I used to enjoy them. I don't know if my taste-buds have changed, because I still like the taste, but I think it's just too acidic for me...( how sad that I've just admitted this...)
Anyways- Happy National Margarita Day, everyone! Suddenly, I"m craving chips and salsa...
Many of you may not be aware, but today, January 5 is National Whip Cream day. It is so named in honor of Reddi-Whip founder, Aaron "Bunny" Lapin. In honor of this momentous occasion, the question begs to be asked- Which do you prefer- Reddi-Whip or Cool Whip? (I might also ask at this point, why a grown man has the nickname of "Bunny?" But, I'll move on....)
Talk amongst yourselves and get back to me....(I loved the Mike Meyer's character "Linda Richman.")
Ok- so what did you decide? Personally, I'm a cool whip girl. There is just so much versatility of use with a carton of cool whip. You can scoop a dollop right out of the carton and entire recipes have been created using a carton of cool whip. Nothing tastes better on pumpkin pie...You can freeze the cool whip and have a low carb ice cream like snack....mix it with cream cheese and you have a no bake cheesecake, mix it with pudding mix and a graham cracker crust and you dessert for bunco night...
Now here's when reddi-whip wins hands down- when you want to garnish, spray directly in your mouth or spray on body parts (for reasons unknown to me- this blog is rated PG-13 you know...)
So- what's your vote? Or favorite use of either "whip cream" like product? Or recipe? As I said earlier, it's an issue of national importance....
Well, hello there Bloggy friends. Hope ya'll don't mind- I took a little hiatus for the holidays. What have I been up to you might be asking yourself? Or not- but I'm going to tell you anyways. Basically- A whole lot of nothing uber-productive. I always have high hopes for my Christmas vacation. Grandiose plans of productivity that will knock your socks off. Usually, reality sets in and I get just enough done to make it through the day and continue this theme until after January 1st and all schedules are back on track.
This year I think part of the problem is how the holidays have landed on the calendar. We have no real catch up days on the weekend since the holidays are falling on the weekend. Alright- I know I can only blame the calendar for so much....so I'll fill you in on a little of what I've been doing...
Last week was a blur getting ready for Christmas- so we won't even count that. Day after Christmas, travelled out of town for another Christmas party, so that day is out for getting anything done.
Monday after Christmas, cleaning up from Christmas, cleaning out the refrigerator and trying to figure out how I can possibly get out of cooking for the next seven days. Admit defeat and go to grocery store. Tuesday, Beloved and I go on outing for our business...(I was working people, again this doesn't count.) Wednesday more cleaning up from Christmas, finally remove the remnants of any presents still lingering in living room or under tree. Start removing select decorations from various rooms and stacking on dining room table. Think about having children bring the Christmas bins down to motivate me to start the big tear down. Get distracted and start making "Christmas Crack." Walk around feeling very ADD and do a little bit here and a little bit there but nothing monumental. Thursday arrives and I decide to be helpful and offer to input a calendar year's worth of receipts into our accounting software for the business, just because Uncle Sam kind of likes you to have documentation when it comes to tax time. There goes the afternoon.
Tomorrow will be spent making the traditional New Year's Cabbage Rolls and helping Eldest get set up for a New Year's Eve party that she has just decided to host. That will bring us to New Year's day- when I definitely plan to take the tree down. Sunday will be organizing the start of the new calendar year for school and work beginning again.
I might also mention that in between all this nothingness getting accomplished, I was cooking more than ever- 3 full meals a day plus snacks and cleaning the kitchen at least six times a day plus the never ending laundry. Something about being home for an extended period of time brings out my inner chef and makes me pull out the cookbooks and try new things and bring back oldies but goodies from the recipe files.
I also have managed to watch every Reality TV Marathon that has been running on every Reality TV show I watch-plus adding a few new ones to the repertoire. (Can I just say that "Jerseylicious" is like watching a train wreck of tanning, makeup, hair and nails like nothing I've ever seen. I'm mesmerized!)
I've been staying up way too late and sleeping in, as well. With all that said, I'm thankful that I'm able to take this time every year and indulge myself and family as we spend this extended time together.
What have you been up to this holiday week? What are your New Year's Eve plans? Do you have any traditional holiday foods that you make for New Year's Eve/Day? My family goes the sauerkraut and pork or cabbage rolls route. NEVER do we eat chicken on New Year's- according to my Grandma Rosso, if you do you'll "scratch for money" all year long. Will you be Bowl Watching and snack food eating on January 1st or something more formal? Whatever you plan to do- be safe and enjoy the last bit of 2010.
Wishing you a Happy New Year!