Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Treats

126. Christmas time is filled with so many delicious treats. Homemade cookies, candy, breads and traditional family sweets.
Our family enjoyed so many yummy delights this year from friends.
These fabulous cookies were from Mexico. They were buttery and so light.
Another delicious cookie is Cucidati, an Italian Fig Cookie filled with figs, dates and walnuts.
My sweet friend makes these for her family each Christmas
and I am so glad our family makes the list! These are delicious with a hot cup of tea.
My precious friend Jiulia makes this Italian favorite, Struffoli, Tiny Honey Balls.
Jiulia says they are very difficult and tedious to make...but oh the wonderful results!
Each year I look forward to THE FABULOUS CHEESCAKE. Our friends ring the doorbell and sing "We Wish You A Merry Christmas", and in their hands is a homemade cheesecake smothered in red raspberries glistening with raspberry glaze.
A pot of coffee is made and we all sit down to savor this delightful gift.

There is a new treat added to our Christmas Treat's list...Ube Cake Roll.
I had never heard of Ube Cake Roll, but learned it is a Philippine delight. Jordan told us it was his favorite dessert growing up.
This cake roll is made with "Ube", a purple colored yam which gives it a violet color.
The texture of the cake was very similar to sponge cake and the cream was so light and fluffy. Although this cake is not very sweet, it calls you back for a second, third and forth bite.
Our friends were so generous this Christmas and spoiled our family with these wonderful treats. We are blessed with family, friends and a Savior who gave for all.

"I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

"(We) not superstitiously observe days, merely as days, but as memorials of important facts. Christmas might be kept as well upon one day of the year as another; but there should be a stated day for commemorating the birth of our Saviour, because there is danger that what may be done on any day, will be neglected. "
~Samuel Johnson

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Polish Beef Rolls

125. Our family Christmas dinner was with a Polish flair. My mother shared this recipe with me several years ago and it has become a family favorite. And, as all family recipes, they vary with each cook.

This recipe of beef rolls are called "Zrazy Zawijane". Although very close to the Italian Braciole, this recipe is very tasteful and a wonderful main entrée.

You can find a large variation of recipes for this dish, such as:

My mother's recipe is very different indeed.

Zraz Zawijany (Polish Beef Rolls)

Top Round sliced very thin in 4 x 8 pieces
salt and pepper
celery, chopped
onion, chopped
parsley, chopped
1 egg, beaten
day old bread, crumbled
olive oil

Sauté celery, onion and parsley in olive oil till tender.
Season with salt and pepper. Cool. Add bread and mix together. Toss as you drizzle egg over all.
Place beef flat, spooning small amount of filling over center.
Roll tightly,
dredge in flour and sauté in olive oil turning to brown.
Transfer to a baking dish.
Make a gravy of the pan drippings and pour over meat in dish. Cover with foil and bake in 350〫. Bake for 1 hour or till meat is tender.

Wesołych Świąt...Merry Christmas!

"Fail not to call to mind, in the course of the twenty-fifth of this month,
that the Divinest Heart that ever walked the earth was born on that day;
and then smile and enjoy yourselves for the rest of it;
for mirth is also of Heaven's making."
~Leigh Hunt

Monday, December 21, 2009

Cherry Tassies

124. Each year at Christmas, I like to try new recipes along with our yearly favorites This recipe was from Better Homes Magazine back in 2008. I tore out the page and saved it. I have to say, they were fairly simple with multiple steps. You can find the recipe here.

Cherry Tassies

  • 1-1/4 cups butter, softened
  • 2-1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. peppermint extract
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup finely crushed striped round peppermint candies (about 18) (I used peppermint sticks)
  • 48 red maraschino cherries or liquor-flavored maraschino cherries with stems, drained
  • Coarse sugar


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat 1 3/4-inch muffin cups with nonstick spray; set aside. In large mixing bowl beat butter on medium to high for 30 seconds. Gradually beat in 1-1/2 cups of the powdered sugar, the baking powder and salt. Beat in peppermint extract, vanilla, and egg. Beat in as much of the flour as you can; stir in remaining flour and candies.

2. Place remaining 3/4 cup powdered sugar in a shallow dish. Shape dough in 1-inch balls; roll in powdered sugar. Press each ball into the bottom and sides of prepared muffin cups.

3. Place cherry, stem side up, in each cup (cherry will not fill the cup).

Bake about 12 minutes or until pastry is browned. Sprinkle with coarse sugar. Cool 10 minutes in pan. Use a small sharp knife to loosen tassies from cups. Transfer to rack to cool completely.

4. To store: Place tassies in a single layer in a covered airtight container. Store at room temperature up to 24 hours or refrigerate up to 3 days. Return to room temperature before serving. Makes about 48 tassies.

The Cherry Tassies baked so beautifully. I did not spray the cups but used a non-stick pan.

Christmas cookie baking is an enjoyable tradition in our home. Enjoy your traditions this Christmas.

"Let us remember that the Christmas heart is a giving heart,
a wide open heart that thinks of others first.
The birth of the baby Jesus stands as the most significant event in all history,
because it has meant the pouring into a sick world the healing medicine of love
which has transformed all manner of hearts for almost two thousand years...
Underneath all the bulging bundles is this beating Christmas heart."
~ George Matthew Adams

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Old Country Kolachi

123. The baking tradition has begun! Today, I sat and went through all my cookie and candy recipes and came up with a list of treats to bake this year.

The first item to bake is nut rolls. The recipe I use is unique to Italians. It is called Kolachi and is a very thin, long roll. Very different from the Polish nut rolls which are very bread y and large.

I received this recipe book many years ago and it is a compilation of wonderful bakers and cooks. These Italian ladies were part of the CCNA (Christian Church of North America). They all got together and offered their recipes for others to enjoy.
I was a student in college at the time and a dear sweet friend gave this book to me. Her name was Anna Marie, and when I say she had the kindest heart, I would not be exaggerating. Anna Marie saw that I really enjoyed cooking and baking, and she blessed me with this cookbook.
Since that day, I always pull this book out for certain recipes, which are always superb!!! My Italian Wedding Soup is in this book, Italian Bon Bon Cookies and so much more! It is a treasure.

Old Country Kolachi

1 ¼ cups milk
¼ cup crisco
½ butter
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 ½ cups flour
3 teaspoons dry yeast
1 teaspoons sugar
2-3 teaspoons water
¾ cup sugar
dash of turmeric
1 teaspoon salt

(When making dough in a bread machine, place all liquids in first, then add flour and remaining dry ingredients. Set on dough setting and when finished dough will be ready to shape.)

Combine milk, crisco and butter. Heat until melted and cool to lukewarm. Sprinkle yeast into cup and add 1 tsp sugar and 3 tsp warm water. Blend together and let rest to proof the yeast. Place sugar, salt, and turmeric into large bowl. Add milk mixture, eggs and vanilla. Mix well and add flour all at once and mix with a wooden spoon. Knead by hand in the bowl (just a little). Dough will be sticky. Cover with towel and set in warm place for 1 ½ hours. Punch down dough and divide into 5½ pieces.
Roll each out on floured surface till very thin
(about 12" X 18"). Spread with nut mixture.
Roll and let rise for ½ hour. Place on a greased cookie sheet or parchment paper. Poke each roll with a fork across the top to avoid rolls splitting.
Bake at 350̊ for about 35 minutes. Brush each roll with a thin coating of oil while still warm.
Nut Filling:

6 cups walnuts ground
1½ cup sugar
6 egg whites, beaten stiff
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ teaspoon maple extract or syrup
6 Tablespoons butter, melted

Mix all together well and set aside.

I just love the maple flavor that comes through...and the dough is so light.

I love to have slices of nut roll set out with dessert. How can you resist!

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more. "
~Dr. Seuss

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Treasures

122. The "treasures" I cherish at Christmas include pulling out old antique ornaments...
decorating our Christmas tree and then turning on the lights.
Remembering stories behind each ornament...when I received them, who gave them to me or what bargain I found.
I love to find old ornaments in a second hand store...and in their original box...that is the best!

And then, dressing up our little Santa Baby.
Searching for our fresh pine tree each year...
and the excitement and anticipation when we find it!
Then cutting it down...to reveal the age of the tree.
Christmas is filled with treasures to remember and hold dear. Good memories, delicious foods and of course, having your family around. Remembering our Savior who came to redeem us. He is the greatest treasure of all.

"I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. "
~Charles Dickens


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