Monday, December 21, 2009

Biscotti for my Santa

My mother's recipe for biscotti is the best!

Mother's Biscotti

2 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. anise seed
3 eggs
2 Tbsp. orange-flavored liquer OR 2 Tbsp. water + 1 tsp. orange extract OR 2 tsp. oil of anise OR lemon extract - I only use the anise seed since for me it is strong enough)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. slivered almonds, toasted lightly

Stir together flour and baking powder. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add anise seed, eggs and liquid; beat thoroughly. Blend in flour mixture. Stir in almonds. Chill dough until firm, about 1 1/2 hours. Divide dough in half; shape each half on lightly floured surface to flat loaf about 2 inches wide and 1/2 inch thick. Place loaves 6 inches apart on 15 X 18 inch greased baking sheet. Bake 375 degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool 5 minutes. Cut loaves diagonally into slices 1/2 inch thick. Place slices, cut side down, close together on baking sheet. Return to oven and bake 12 - 15 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Cool on wire rack. Store in airtight container. About 3 doz.
I make several batches of this recipe and use dried cranberries in some of them. Really good.

Biscotti is great in coffee or hot tea, but try it in red wine. Delish!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Pappadeaux’s Sweet Potato – Pecan Pie

                      Pappadeaux’s Sweet Potato – Pecan Pie with Bourbon Sauce

Sweet potato filling:
1 ¼ c. cooked, mashed sweet potatoes (2 medium potatoes)
¼ c. each: packed brown sugar and granulated sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
¼ c. whipping cream
¼ tsp. vanilla
Pinch of salt
¾ tsp each: ground cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg
3 Tbsp. softened butter (1 ½ oz.)
1 unbaked pie crust for a single crust 10” pie (can use deep dish crust)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine sweet potatoes, sugars, egg, cream, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and butter in electric mixer bowl and beat at medium-low speed until smooth. Do not over mix.

To assemble pie, spoon sweet potato filling into pastry-lined pan. Fill shell evenly to the top with Pecan Pie filling. Bake 1 ½ hours or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Store at room temperature 24 hours. Serve slices with Bourbon Sauce on top or on the side. Makes 8 – 10 servings.

Pecan Pie Filling:
1 ¼ cups each: sugar and dark corn syrup
3 eggs, lightly beaten
3 Tbsp. Unsalted butter, softened
¼ tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 ¼ c. chopped pecans

Combine sugar, syrup, eggs, butter, vanilla, salt and cinnamon in electric mixer bowl and beat on low speed until syrup is opaque, about 4 – 5 minutes. Stir in pecans, mixing well.

Bourbon Sauce: (enough for 2 pies)
1 ½ c. whipping cream
1 c. milk
1 (4 serving size) pkg. instant vanilla pudding mix
3 Tbs. Bourbon, brandy or rum
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine cream and milk in a large mixing bowl. Slowly whip in pudding mix. Add bourbon and continue whipping. Add vanilla and whip until mixture is blended to sauce consistency (should not be as firm as pudding but not runny). Sauce should be made 1 hour before use; it will thicken as it sits.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

I could say that my husband is a "snoop"!

Ever since my husband was a little boy he has "snooped" into his Christmas presents. His parents had to send the Christmas gifts to the neighbor's house in an effort to keep him out of the packages. He didn't consider that a problem at all. He just waited until the neighbors were gone and then he "snooped"!  (No one locked their house doors in the old days... remember?) He remembers getting up in the middle of the night and unwrapping everyone's presents and wrapping them back up. I've asked him time and again, "Didn't that spoil the surprise for you?" He always answers with a laugh, a twinkle in his eye and a resounding, "NO!" I just think is so odd. I would never want to spoil a surprise for myself, but, as my aunt says, "That's what makes horse racing!"

(I am just now figuring out why my husband does such a good job wrapping presents when I request help. He's had lots of practice.)

Do you have a snooper... that you know of??

Friday, December 18, 2009

My First Christmas Cloche

My First Christmas Cloche

This is not as fancy as some I have seen, but it was a tricky one to do and I'm pleased. Wish this picture would show the glow from the glass balls. They are very, very heavy. I bought them in Tlaquepaque, Mexico, a "suburb" of Guadalajara. I had to hold my breath when I turned the glass cloche over with those heavy balls. I was worried the dome would crack. They are placed on a Mexican pewter cake stand.

Are you having a hard time calling it "quits" on the decorating and cooking? I keep seeing one more thing I could do. I have to stop that!

It's an unusual holiday time for us. My husband is at our business in Mexico right now and will hopefully be home on Wednesday. Just one of those things! I am definitely getting more done than if he was here, but I sure do miss him. Lucky man though... he is attending our granddaughter's Christmas program in Mexico, where our son and his family live. Hopefully I will have a picture to post at some point.

Santa - this one is enough to scare anyone!!

Santa - 1954

It's a wonder we were all tramatized by this Santa. When we would spend Christmas with my maternal grandparents, "Jean" and "Gumpy", we would be treated by a visit from Santa himself. This Santa suit dated back to the 1920's. The mask was incredibly bizarre! I remember getting so caught up in the moment of his arrival that it was perfectly okay with me that Santa either wore my grandfather's Aggie ring or my uncle's Tulane ring. What a cooincidence! In later years one of my brothers would dress in the same costume and entertain my oldest son and youngest brother. Great memories!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas 1954

Christmas 1954

My mother and sister (left) and I all had matching "dusters" that my grandmother had made for us. That was such fun for us all to be dressed alike. You can barely tell but this is the Christmas that I had the mumps!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Feliz Navidad from Carmen and David

Merry Christmas from Mexico!
Carmen and David - 2009

My grandchildren live in Mexico... too far for a quick drive to Abuela and Pop's home. Thank goodness for iPhones and being able to send pictures back and forth. This Christmas tree is in Carmen's bedroom. I think it's beautiful!

Monday, December 14, 2009

How to make English Dainties and Mother B's Fruitcake

English Dainties

First step:

1/4 lb. butter
1 1/4 c. flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. baking powder

Mix well and press into a buttered 8"x8" square pan. Bake in 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until light tan color. (I doubled this recipe)

Second step:

1 egg
1/4 c. coconut
1 c. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. flour
1 c. finely chopped pecans
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix and spread over first part and bake slowly (325 degees) until moisture is all gone, about 15 - 20 minutes. Cool and ice with:

Final step:


1/8 lb. butter
Juice of 1 lemon
Enough powdered sugar to make a spread

When spread, allow to dry well and then cut into squares.

Mother B's Fruitcake
makes 2 loaves

2 lbs. candied fruit
1 package shredded coconut
1 lbs. or less of chopped pecans
2 cans of Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk

Mix thoroughly fruit, coconut and nuts. Add milk and mix again. Grease (or use Pam) loaf pans and then line with wax paper. (I spray with Pam again.) Press mixture into the pans and baake at 250 degrees for 3 hours for a dark cake or
1 1/2 hours for a lighter cake.

English Danties and Mother B's Fruitcake

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Yes, Virginia... there ARE people who like fruitcake!

English Dainties and Fruitcake

I just love our English Dainty recipe story. My grandfather was managing the large hotel in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. The chef working there would make this wonderful recipe called English Dainties. My grandmother (Mother "B" who has been featured in my postings in the past) wanted the recipe for the bar cookies with the slightly tangy frosting. The chef would not give her the recipe... so my grandmother bought it! For $100 (and mind you this was back in the early 1940's) the chef sold the recipe to her. It's just not Christmas without it.

Now as for the fruitcake. Yummo! And if you are on a fairly strict gluten-free diet, this recipe qualifies. It's just candied fruit, sweetened condensed milk, coconut and nuts. I suppose fruitcake can be one of those "acquired" cravings. I never much cared for it as a child, but love it now.

I remember that when we would receive a fruitcake in the mail and as often times would happen... it would go stale before being eaten. My mother would pour a little bourbon over it, wrap it in cheese cloth and store it in the freezer for next year. Next Christmas she would thaw the fruitcake, slice it, dredge it in powdered sugar and serve it that way. All of the adults would rave over it!

Tune in tomorrow if you are interested in recipes.

Ruby Opal Heath Boykin - "Mother 'B'"
1907 - Rochelle, Texas

Monday, December 7, 2009

Helloooo, Santa!

This picture of my youngest brother was taken in 1961. I just love it! He sure was curious about "Santa"!

I am out of town right now and it is difficult for me to post much, but I'll be back home late Friday. Everyone have a great week!!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

We have a "head" now, Houston!

Here is the BIG bow almost everyone suggested. My sweet, talented niece came by today and added the bow with the tree topper. Didn't she do a great job? Thanks, DeAnnie!

I loved the bird nest idea and think I will try that next year. Maybe I'll find a real nest somewhere. (I can hear my mother now.. "Watch out for those mites!"  ;-)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Please help! I have a headless Christmas tree.

I've worked and worked today to get my Christmas tree decorated (including an emergency trip to Hobby Lobby for garlands for my mantel) and I simply cannot figure out what to put on top of the tree that is big enough. My two tree toppers are too small. I've used a bow in the past but I've never been real happy with that... mainly because I don't know how to tie a pretty bow. Any suggestions??? "Easy" is the by-word.

Oh, you want to see my mantel? Well, mind you we have just finished our "redo" and I have not bought a new fireplace grill yet. Those are a little tough to find in deep South Texas. But I actually saw one at Target that might... might work.

Oh, you want to see my mantel? Where here it is, photographed with my iPhone... so not too clear. It is much brighter than it looks. But thanks to Hobby Lobby, I have a new look for the fireplace this year. (I'm think about a broad gold ribbon woven through it might look nice.)