jingle balls brunch

The holidays are a great time for brunch, don’t you think? This year I put together a brunch where the menu items (except the eggs and beverages) were ball-shaped! It was fun to come up with flavor combos using that shape limitation, and I do believe the meal “made spirits bright.”

Kumquats with Chèvre rolled in Brandied Pecans / Aged White Cheddar & Brown Sugar Bacon Monkey Bread / Twice Baked Mini Mashers / Roasted Cappellini Onions and Grape Tomatoes / Macaroons with Tart Cherries & Key Limes.

Half of the food was prepared in advance. Day before: bake mini mashers once, bake bacon in oven, roll goat cheese balls, make macaroons, wash fruits & veggies. Day of: bake bacon cheddar monkey bread, hollow out mini mashers, roast mini mashers, onions & tomatoes, stuff mini mashers with filling, make eggs.

Black Diamond & Brown Sugar Bacon Monkey Bread (Amy’s Adaptation)

2 Tubes crescent roll dough, balled up (a revelation in semi-flaky monkey bread)
12 slices good bacon, baked with dark brown sugar, broken up (bake your bacon!)
One little block Black Diamond aged white cheddar, chunked up (I used to live on little shrink wrapped packets of this cheese)
Half stick unsalted sweet cream butter, melted

lightly grease loaf pan.
coat each dough ball in butter and fill bottom of pan with dough ball layer.
sprinkle bacon and cheese over the layer.
repeat a few times.
finish with a dough ball layer.

takes about 35 minutes in 350-degree oven. let cool in pan for about 10 minutes before transferring to plate.

butterscotch cookie candles

Have you ever made window cookies with hard candies? I thought it would be fun to do a butterscotch flame version with my tin candle cookie cutter. I rolled out some sugar cookie dough, crushed some butterscotch discs, and whipped up some frosting using powdered sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, butter and milk. Tasty cookies with a bottle of milk.

While I was making them, I thought about a song that my nephew learned in choir that starts out, “light one candle for hope.” My niece, whose name sounds a lot like “candle” thinks the song is about her. What a true thought; we are all capable of being figurative candles for peace, hope and love.

cookie tray in a pinch

I had grand plans for my contribution to the office sweets party this year, but life events intervened and those plans will have to be realized in the future. Whattodo when you can’t make your own homemade treats? Make your own assortment tray of your favorite locally made cookies! In my case, I dropped by the Cookie Cottage for some soft double chocolate raspberry cream and double chocolate chip mint cookies. Selection and presentation can be gifts, and a positive part of the holidays is sharing the things you love; so I say, double it up whenever possible!

pink snow float

Do you have a tree-gazing beverage of choice? You know, a special drink to sit and sip once the tree is decorated and lit. Mine is a pink snow float. Assembly involves a few scoops of peppermint ice cream drenched with ginger ale (of course, if tree decorating is extra-challenging, a splash of gin may also be appropriate). Once the ginger ale is poured, a frothy pink bubblemound will appear at the top! Ginger and peppermint are as easy on my taste buds as they are on my tummy.

decorating with gingerbread, part 2

To commemorate my mom’s Wild Horses grant study this year, I decorated her tree with new gingerbread ornaments. Two additions to the cookie cutouts were two Martha Stewart craft products that I have been eyeing for at least five years. Thanks to a Michael’s coupon and the excuse of “it’s my birthday,” I now own superfine glitter and baker’s twine! When I look at the finished tree I can’t help but think of the song lyric, “All of the good gifts given today; Ours is the sky and the wide open range.” I am thankful for all of the gifts that would never have a coupon or need wrapping.

decorating with gingerbread, part 1

Remember the quadruple batch of gingerbread dough I made with my sister and my niece a few weeks back? These are some of the new ornaments we made for their cozy winter sweater tree. The ornaments are simple to make and can be hung plain or with a few sweet touches of icing, ribbon, or candy dots. Up close they smell spicy and are the same color as brown paper packages (tied up with string). Baking with family, decorating for Christmas… a few of my favorite things!