Friday, January 1, 2016

Randomly Happy New Year's Day! PLUS Two Festive and *awesome* Recipes!

Happy New Year's, My Lovelies!  I am so happy about 2016.  Truly I think it's going to be a great year!  I hope this year finds you healthy, happy, and prosperous.


We have had a wonderful Christmas season so far, filled with family, friends, and neighbors.  This post is actually a random post about all things Christmas.







The Hot Chocolate Bar was the hit of the holiday season.  We're leaving it up for the rest of winter!  Although we had to run the air conditioner in order to enjoy the chocolaty concoction it has been *so* worth it.





This year we purchased fun wrapping paper from The Paper Source.  The girls said it was their favorite, but I didn't think about the glitter.

I'm still vacuuming it up.  :/





On Christmas Eve we got into the spirit of Christmas by attending our church's Christmas Pageant, and the excitement of the children is always infections.  When we got home, this little monkey greeted us.  We named him Mr. Monkey, and he likes hanging out on our Hot Chocolate Bar.  Thanks so much, Andrea!







We have treasured the very few hours of sunshine during Christmas.  We filled the house with fresh flowers and poinsettias to make our home more cheerful.  We've gotten so much rain that Lake Martin is only one foot below full pool….that's really something considering that Alabama Power has been running off so much water since late summer.



We visited my mother and grandmother in my hometown.  My mom loves these cookies found @ Sally's Baking Addiction.  She requested that Shanley Belle and I bake her some for the season.  I have her cookbook and I love it!  I highly recommend it.





Please click on this link to see Sally's original recipe.  Unfortunately this year we had to change it because we were out of almond extract, and since it's a shortbread cookie, we substituted butter flavoring.

Cherry Shortbread Cookies


Ingredients:

3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2/3 cup (134g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon Buttery Sweet Dough Bakery Emulsion extract  (Sally uses almond extract)
1 Tablespoon (15ml) maraschino cherry juice
2 cups (240g) all-purpose flour (measured correctly)
16 maraschino cherries (drained and chopped)
4 ounces white chocolate (optional)


Directions:

Using a handheld or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Switch mixer to medium speed and add the the sugar, vanilla and butter extracts. 

Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer running on high, slowly drizzle in 1 Tablespoon of the cherry juice. Beat for 1 minute on high. Turn the mixer off and pour the flour into the wet ingredients. Turn the mixer on low and slowly beat until a very soft dough is formed, then, with the mixer still running on low, add the chopped cherries. Beat just until the cherries are disbursed in the dough. 

Press the dough down to compact it and tightly cover with plastic wrap to chill until firm, at least 4 hours (and up to 3 days). If the cookie dough is not sufficiently chilled, your cookies will spread all over the cookie sheet.  This is mandatory!


Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats (silicone mats preferred to reduce spreading, and that's what I used).  Shape the cookie dough into balls. Mine were about 1 Tablespoon of dough per ball. Try not to handle them too much because you want them to be as cold as possible before they go into the oven.  


Make sure they're nice and smooth. If you find that the balls of dough are sticky and/or have gotten a little soft after rolling- place the balls of dough back into the refrigerator to firm up. You absolutely DO NOT want soft dough.


Bake for 11-12 minutes, or until very lightly browned on the edges. The cookies will puff up and spread slightly. Do not over bake.  You really must watch these cookies and take them out as soon as they are slightly brown on the edges.  

Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before drizzling with white chocolate. Melt the white chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave, in 20 second increments, stirring after each increment until melted. 

Sally suggests that you use a plastic condiment bottle to drizzle the melted white chocolate, and I concur….much easier that way!  

Make ahead tip: Store cookies covered at room temperature for 3 days or in the refrigerator for 6 days. Shortbread cookie dough may be frozen up to 2 months; baked cookies may be frozen up to 2-3 months.




This year I created another Advent Calendar.  I hope you enjoy reading these posts because I truly enjoy counting down the days until Christmas!










Finlay turned 2 on December 27th!  Of course we had a party.  He's enjoying his Christmas and Birthday treats.
We covered all the family room furniture with blankies because of all the torrential rains.  We don't want muddy paws ruining our furniture so don't judge me!  ;P







On Monday we took down most of our Christmas decor and replaced it with all things Crimson and White.  We hosted a New Year's Eve Cotton Bowl Party for our neighbors and friends.  It was so much fun, especially since Alabama won!  Roll Tide Roll!  Now on to the National Championship Game against Clemson.



The perfect cocktail to celebrate life's victories is a Passion Fruit Cocktail.  Here's how it's made:








Passion Fruit Cocktail

1 T Passion Fruit Puree
1 t gingerbread syrup
Prosecco
Mint sprig for garnishing

How to make passion fruit puree:

Cut the fruit in half cross-wise and scoop out the seeds and pulp.
Place the pulp in a blender, along with 1 teaspoon of water per fruit.
Blend on high for two to three seconds.
Pour the blended seeds into a fine, metal strainer placed over a mixing bowl.
Use a wooden spoon to push as much of the pulp through the strainer, leaving the broken seed pieces behind.

Place passion fruit puree and syrup in the bottom of a champagne flute.  Add Prosecco and mint for garnish.

Salut!



I hope you and yours have a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2016!





I'll be back next week with a Best of 2015 post and Literary Friday returns on Friday, January 8th!


Until next time…

Blessings!
Ricki Jill

14 comments:

  1. Sounds like you had a wonderful Christmas! Those cookies look amazing! I made some white chocolate chip cookies with candied cherries, but they ended up being dry, which was a bummer. It didn't stop the family from eating them, though... :-)

    Have a very happy and blessed New Year!

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  2. These cookies look divine! I am saving this because I love the maraschino cherries! Your little pooch looks very comfy lounging on your nice white furniture -- I totally understand the towels and blankets. Glad your team won! Happy New Year!

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  3. Happy New Year Ricki Jill! Wishing you much happiness this year. Thanks for sharing those yummy recipes too!

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  4. The passion fruit cocktail looks amazing! It's been a great year and I entered my last book into Goodreads at the end of the year...#50. I can't wait to see what you read and recommend this year. We love so many of the same books. Happy New year my friend. Hugs, Diane

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  5. Ricki Jill, as good as those treats look, the hot chocolate bar is where I'd spend my calories! And I like your idea of leaving it up all winter!

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  6. I knew that monkey would lose its creepiness amongst all of your lovely finishings!

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  7. Sounds like you had a wonderful holiday - the hot chocolate bar sounds like a fun set up! I am heading back for the cookie recipe....Happy new Year

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  8. Ricki Jill,
    Enjoyed your sweet share of Christmas 2015 and all the sweet photos. A belated Happy 2nd Birthday wish for Finlay. He sure is a cutie pie. I laughed about your glitter wrapping paper - because ... We found very pretty wrapping paper this year at Target. Sophiscated looking, great graphics, touches of glitter in the design. Looked lovely but never again! Like you, glitter all over!
    Your passion fruit cocktail is a recipe I will try. Just so happen to have a chilled bottle of Ruffino Prosecco (my favorite Prosecco) in the frig. and a fruit/vegetable stand only a block or so away. Thanks RJ I'll toast to you tonight.
    It's been a delight reading your posts and look forward to your shares this year.
    xoxo,
    Vera

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  9. Glad you had a wonderful Christmas. Shortbread cookies are my faves and these cherry shortbread cookies sound so delish. Have a great start to the new year.
    Kris

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  10. I love this post. So many great ideas! And your advent calendar is precious .I love the wrapping paper too! I remember our glitter days, sparkle would be everywhere. Sometimes I miss it. The chicken recipe below looks delicious! It sounds like it was a merry Christmas! Blessings to you and your family for the new year ahead.

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  11. Happy New Year!
    www.rsrue.blogspot.com

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  12. Oh my gosh, the glitter! 99% of the holiday cards we received this year had glitter on them. The cats now have glitter on them, too. We've vacuumed so many times, and yet, the glitter remains!

    Thanks for those recipes! They look delicious.

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  13. Oh, my gosh! Those cookies look delicious.

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  14. Happy New Year, I agree, 2016 will be a great year.
    Thank you for the recipes.
    Carla

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