Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas- Our Annual Party: Recipes, Cookie FAILS, Gift giving and a GREAT time!

Though we get together each month, December is extra special for obvious reasons!  A time to dress up a little, we give gifts, and we do our annual (and possibly final) cookie exchange. 
It's ALL ABOUT THE FOOD!!!!  Each month we take turns hosting and Dani offered her home for December.  It's so much fun sitting around a pretty table chatting with your girlfriends!  Here are a couple of the things we ate (think I'm still full!):
Stuffed Mushrooms
Remove stem from large mushrooms.  Put a dollup of your favorite stuffing in the bottom of mushrooms leaving room for cream cheese filling.  Put 8oz of cream cheese in the food processor with 1/2 cup of olive tapenade (or finely chopped olive mix) and 1 TBS (give or take to your taste) of Johhny's Garlic Spread and Seasoning.  Pulse until mixed and spoon into mushrooms.  Bake at 400* for about 20-30 minutes.  Serve immediately. 
Italian Pin Wheels
Start with your favorite homemade French bread dough or store bought dough.  Roll into 16x10 rectangle 1/4" thick- brush with olive oil leaving 1" at longest edge and Sprinkle with garlic powder.  Cover dough with 2 cups of shredded cheese then Layer with pepperoni slices and add chopped basil.  Roll dough tightly starting at long edge and dampen opposite 1" edge with water and complete rolling (the water will help seal the roll).  Cut into 1" slices and place on non-stick baking sheet then Cover with cloth and let raise.  Bake at 375* until golden brown.  Serve with marinara sauce- best served warm.

....and of course don't forget the drinks!  Yummy cranberry punch and wine- DANG, why did I drive??
ME (left) with my present of a Mayberry Cookbook, Bunco ornament,
headband and an original jewelry creation from All Wrapped Up.
We also do a gift exchange (with a $30 cap) by drawing names.  LOVE knowing I'm at least getting ONE present from SOMEbody this year!  These kitchen item ornaments were my gift to the gals to show my appreciation for all their hard work this year.
Cookie Exchange
Note:  My Baklava will be on a separate blog
FUNNIEST COOKIE EXCHANGE EVER!  This was the year for epic fails.  Part of us made too-complicated-never-to-be-duplicated cookies, others had batches that made small- causing them to have LESS than the minimum nine dozen, one (whom shall remain nameless) actually PURCHASED her cookies (BRILLIANT  woman!), mine had a Phyllo mishap, and one sweetie....well, completely misunderstood and just brought TWO dozen cookies...TOTAL ("What???!!!  Why would you want NINE dozen cookies???!!!).  Needless to say, the over all consensus was to skip our annual cookie exchange next year ROFL!!

Dawn's Rum Balls
2 boxes (12oz ea) vanilla wafers, crushed
2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups confectioner's sugar
2/3 cup dark rum
2 cups light or dark corn syrup
8oz container diced dried citrus fruits (optional)
shredded coconut or jimmies for coating
Stir vanilla wafer crumbs, nuts, confectioner's sugar and unsweetened cocoa.  Starting with 1/2 the quantity of rum and 1/2 the corn syrup, gradually stir in liquids, adding a little at a time.
Stir together and check consistency.  When you can roll the mixture into a 1" ball, don't add any more run or syrup.  You may not need to add the full amount called for in the recipe (this is because some cocoa brands contain more cornstarch or other fillers than other brands which absorb the liquids).  
Add citrons (optional) and stir until well blended then shape into 1" balls.
Roll in either coconut or the jimmies.
This recipe SAYS it makes 9 dozen but when Dawn made them, it only came out to 5 1/2 

Dani's Chocolate turtle cookies
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoon (1stick) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg, seperated, plus 1 egg white
2 tablesppons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4cups pecan, chopped fine
14 soft caramel candies
3 tablespoons heavy cream
Combine flour, cocoa, and salt in bowl.  With electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 2 minute3s.  add egg yolk, milk and vanilla and mix until corporated.  Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture until just combined.  Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, 1 hour.
Adjust oven rack to upper middle and lower middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Whisk egg whites in bowl until frothy.  Place pecans in another bowl.  
Roll dough into 1inch balls, dipin egg whites, then roll in pecans.  Place balls 2 inches apart on prepared on prepared baking sheets.  Using 1/2 teaspoon measure, make indentation in center of each ball.  Bake until set, about 12 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking. 
Microwave caramels and cream in bowl, stirring occasionally, until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.  Once cookies are removed from oven, gently re-press existing indentations.  Fill each with 1/2 teaspoon of caramel mixture.  Cool 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rach to cool completely.

Laura's Pioneer Potato Candy 
original recipe yield 2 dz 
1 lb chocolate, chopped
1 cup mashed cooked potatoes
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 lbs confectioner's sugar
2/3 cup shredded coconut or chopped peanuts
Inn the top of a double boiler, heat chocolate, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and smooth.
In a mixing bowl, combine the potato, salt and vanilla.  Sift the confectioner's sugar over potato, stirring and adding about 1 cup at a time.  Mixture will liquefy when sugar is added then gradually begin to thicken.

When it becomes the consistency of stiff dough, knead it even though not all the sugar has been added.
After kneading, cover with a damp cloth and chill until a small spoonful can be rolled into a ball.  Shape in small 1/2" balls.  Dip balls in melted chocolate then roll in peanuts or coconut.
The special "Italian" cookies (store bought!)
Recipe from Krusteaz (these were my hubby's FAV)

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