Wednesday, October 7, 2009

It's Gettin' to be That Time of Year Again...

...and I am super excited. I'm really a warm weather kind of girl, but I try and find things to get me through the cold months. I love fall and winter because I really enjoy a cozy home. The fire crackling, hot cider or cocoa, warm cookies, the smell of cinnamon and Christmas trees, pumpkins and gourds, all the leaves changing color, the cool, crisp air outside...sigh. Oh, and it's so fun when all the family gets together during these upcoming holidays. We pretty much missed them last year because the boys were born November 21, just before Thanksgiving. They didn't get out of the hospital until December though and we couldn't take them anywhere and had to limit their exposure to people.

So now they're big and strong and I am excited about the coming season. I really love baking, but my kitchen gets soooo hot during the summer that I really try to limit my activity. But now it's getting cool and it just serves to warm up that end of the house :) Plus, I love the smells! I wanted to share two of my favorite recipes that I use every year. One is a cider drink that is delicious and smells great. Plus, if you have any left over it reheats in the microwave wonderfully. The second is my go-to cookie recipe that never fails to get rave reviews. It's a double chocolate cookie with chocolate chips, but I'll occasionally substitute with crushed Andes candies. Peanut butter or white chocolate chips work well too.

Teton Tea (From Better, Homes & Gardens Christmas Cookie magazine, 2005)
4 Cups Cranberry Juice
2 Cups Orange Juice
3 Cinnamon Sticks (or 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon)
¼ Cup Lemon Juice
1 Teaspoon Clove

Bring Cranberry Juice to a simmer, add Cinnamon and Clove, cover and simmer for twenty minutes. Add Lemon Juice and Orange Juice, let simmer until warm.

Double Chocolate Dream Cookies (From Nestle Best Loved Cookies book from Avon)
2 ¼ Cups Flour
½ Cup Baking Cocoa
1 tsp Baking soda
½ tsp Salt
1 Cup Butter/Margarine (2 sticks)
1 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
¾ Cup Granulated Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Eggs
2 Cups (12 oz package) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 375 F. Whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Beat butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar and vanilla in mixing bowl until creamy. Beat in eggs about 2 minutes or until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until puffed. Let stand for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Makes 4 ½ dozen cookies.

I would like to make an additional note about how much I love my baking stones. They are available from The Pampered Chef, although imitations are available. They are slightly cumbersome to work with, but are infinitely better in baking quality, especially when pre-warmed. These are two of them; the one on top is brand new, and underneath is one of my well-loved cookie stones. You can see how it darkens as it becomes more seasoned.

Happy baking! Hope you enjoy these recipes as much I have :)


Lauren said...

I'm getting so excited about fall and Christmas baking too!! Also, I tagged you in my most recent post. :)

Ashley said...

I might have to make those cookies for Patrick this year...I make fun of him for how much he likes chocolate, so they would be right up his alley. And I can attest to how good they are! :)

grace said...

Ah, the beauty of fall. :)
I LOVE that cider recipe, we're definitely going to have to make it at one of our family get togethers, as well as the cookies. Yum! haha!