Saturday, December 24, 2011

Holiday Traditions New and Old

Merry Christmas Eve everyone!  Happy 5th night of Hanukkah!

The holidays are one my favorite times of year.  Mostly because it's okay to make and eat ridiculous amounts of cookies, treats and favorite holiday foods.  Hubby and I aren't particularly religious, but we do enjoy some of the traditions of both Christmas and Hanukkah and we've made some of our own traditions.

Note I cheated in this photo placing all the candles in the Menorah even though it's only night 5

Every year on one of the eight nights of Hanukkah we celebrate the miracle of lights by eating an entire meal comprised of homemade potato latkes.  This year Hanukkah and Christmas overlap so we have to be strategic about when we will indulge in this delicious meal.  I think it will be on Monday, the 7th night of Hanukkah this year.  Here's a peek at our latke feast from last year.  The photos are not the greatest, but this recipe is amazingly delicious.  It has a squeeze of lemon juice in it (to prevent the potatoes from turning brown I believe), but the tang from the lemon is what makes these little fried bits of goodness so delicious!

Last year I also made some Hanukkah sweets....cake truffles to be exact.  They are by no means a traditional holiday treat, but they are decadent little goodies that are fun to make and decorate and definitely bring home the spirit of Hanukkah.  You can use any type of cake and coating that suit your taste.  If you have not made cake truffles (or cake pops) yet I highly recommend them!

Also last year, I made Christmas red velvet and devil's food cake truffles.  They were a big hit and made it into this year's baking rotation.  Given the reviews, I think these will now officially be a staple in my cookie gift boxes.  Though technically not a cookie!  Don't hold it against me.  I have to give the people what they want.

The majority of holiday time in the kitchen is spent baking oodles and oodles of cookies.  I love cookies for a few reasons.

A. Cookies are delicious.
B. Cookies are fun.
C. Cookies have endless varieties, shapes, sizes and flavors to experiment with.
D. Cookies are portable.
C. Everyone loves cookies! 

If you don't love cookies, you might be an alien from another planet.  You might want to get that checked out.

I thought I would share a roundup of this year's cookie palooza as well as share some old favorites. 
The most requested and commented on cookies are my two holiday staple cookies, Ginger Snaps and Raspberry and Lemon Linzers.  In fact I can't recall a year where I didn't make these two types of cookies.  I don't want a revolt on my hands. 

And each year I like to try a few new varieties.  When I was at my Grandma's house earlier this year I spent some time going through her recipe cards.  I found a few old recipes that I remember having as kid. 

One was a recipe my Mom would make called Jam Tarts.  They are tender crescents of cream cheese based dough filled with boysenberry jam and dusted in powdered sugar.  Recipe coming soon!

I also decided to try a new version of the tarts and filled some crescents with Nutella, coated with pearl sugar and drizzled with chocolate. 

The other family recipe I tried this year is called Mint Sticks, or Mint Brownie Bars.  This festive treat has a brownie based a layer topped with mint frosting and a drizzle of chocolate on top.  Recipe coming soon!

Chocolate Truffle Cookies (pictured below left) have become a new holiday favorite as of last year.  These really are like a truffle in cookie version.  A great choice for chocolate lovers. 

All the goodies get plated to go off to my Aunt's house to celebrate Christmas Eve.  Below is a peek of the cookie plates ready to go for tonight!  And another plate will be put together tomorrow for Christmas Day at my Dad's house.  One can never have too many cookies!

Hope you all have a fabulous holiday filled with good company, good food and tasty cookies of course!

Merry Christmas!
Happy Hanukkah!
Happy Kwanza!

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