Monday, November 10, 2008

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN...START YOUR OVENS!!

Recently, my mailbox has been filling up with so many wonderful cooking magazines filled with scrumptious recipes and photos of beautiful Holiday treats and meals. (Is that the same turkey year after year on Bon Appetit? I swear those herbs are in the exact same spot, under the exact same breast, as last year's issue.) Skeptic? Anyway, this is part of all the hub bub I love about the holidays. I read all these great new recipes with all these great new ideas for sides and desserts and think, "Oh, yea, that sounds great...that would be something really different and special to serve. Ooooh, and that sounds delicious! I'm definitely gonna make that!"
Yep, I have all these great ideas going thru my head and how everyone is going to just be blown away by my originality and wonder how I come up with such amazing dishes. Then two weeks before Thanksgiving I'm so excited I start working on my menu, writing everything down, scratching out this and adding that and coming up with way too many dishes, a grocery list that's ridiculously long, even by my standards, so that when I start paring it down, it seems like the list always ends up being the same good ole traditional meal that we enjoy year after year. Tho my intentions are good, I usually throw in a couple of newbies, maybe, but I tend to stick to the good old turkey and sides that I grew up with. I imagine it's probably true with most of us.....what makes a meal special and a holiday memorable, is how it reflects how we grew up and all our favorites our Mommies and Memaws made for us on those special occasions. Really, think about it....how often do you see that ad for Green Bean Casserole throughout the year and then there it is in every magazine and newspaper from November thru December? I would love to see the sales numbers on French's Fried Onion Rings and Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup for those two months. You know it's gotta be like Cadbury Eggs or Peeps at Easter! Not necessarily on the weekly shopping list, but most definitely a very important part of many a holiday memory. Special treats, such as turkeys, hams, casseroles, cakes, candies, cookies, pumpkins and nuts....define tradition and have a very special place in our hearts.
Yes, I'll fry another turkey this year, 'cause it was a hit with the fellas, but I'm having my big roasted bird right there beside it.  Lesson learned. I have to have my leftovers and turkey sandwiches.  And Fried Turkey is a while 'nother sandwich, not the traditional one I look forward to the next day.
Okay, having said all that, I'm gonna get started on some of my baking and I want to share this great cookie recipe with you. I found this recipe last year about a week before Christmas and made them immediately. One of my very favorite ingredients is cranberries and I eat them year round. I always buy extra when they're fresh at the grocers during Nov. and Dec. and I keep a few bags in the freezer to pull out throughout the year. This cookie is a thin cookie. It's crisp, sugary, orange-y, and filled with cranberries. It's a delicious, light cookie that's perfect for a crunchy, sweet snack or served with cheese, they are great with my Blue Cheese Cheeseball, (recipe listed below) and they are perfect for wrapping in some clear celophane, tying with some pretty ribbon and giving as gifts. I keep some on hand for those "surprise" guests that might show up. I never know if one of the boys is going to bring home a girlfriend I didn't know about or a buddy that just needs a little lovin' around the holidays. If you like the fruits of fall, that Thanksgiving/Christmas Citrus-thing, then you'll really like this recipe. I'm also including some baking tips from "Best Of Baking" from Land O Lakes, a favorite baking book of mine. Crank those ovens up and let the baking begin!!
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CRANBERRY ORANGE COOKIES
Sugar Mixture:
1/3 cup Granulated sugar
1 Teaspoon Freshly grated orange peel (Careful, No white (pith) of rind)
Cookie Recipe:
1 Cup gran. sugar
3/4 C unsalted butter, softened
1 egg
2 C all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 C sweetened dried cranberries, chopped
1/2 C chopped pecans or macadamia nuts
1 Tablespoon freshly grated orange peel
Preheat oven to 350. Combine sugar mixture ingredients in a small bowl; stir until well mixed. Set aside. Combine 1 cup sugar, butter and egg in a large bowl; beat at medium speed till creamy. Reduce speed to low; add flour, baking powder and baking soda. Beat until well mixed. Add all remaining ingredients. Continue beating till just mixed.
Shape rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into 1-inch balls; roll balls in sugar mixture. Place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten with bottom of glass to 1 1/2 in. circles. Bake for 7 to 11 minutes or unit edges are lightly browned. (DO NOT OVER BAKE) Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets with a small spatula onto a wire rack. (Store in air tight containers. Can freeze unused dough. Thaw in fridge before cutting to bake)
TIPS: To prevent cranberries from sticking to knife when chopping, spray knife with non-stick cooking spray.
* To prevent hands from getting too sugary, shape dough into enough balls to fill one cookie sheet, then roll balls in the sugar mixture.
* I always use parchment paper when I bake cookies. It just seems to do better for me. I am "baking challenged" and need all the pointers I can get!


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