“Dear Mrs. Claus” is a fun collection of photographs and recipes from around the web that we are hoping will find their way into our homes via Mrs. Claus. Remember you are Mrs. Claus’ inspiration so if you have some Christmas pictures waiting to be shared please send me a link to your post and I will be happy to add it to the Mrs. Claus collection (feel free to bring some up from the archives). Just e-mail me at [email protected]
Hilary from Let Her Bake Cake has graciously agreed to share with us her Holiday traditions and eats. Not only does she have class but some pretty awesome, quirky Christmas rituals. Hilary”s blog is a pleasure to visit with her entertaining stories, intelligent whit and mouthwatering photos. Her love of grammar and spelling makes me more then a little nervous when writing, but she has obviously forgiven me as she has never commented on my horrendous use of comma”s. If you have never visited her blog before I encourage you to take a peek. I am sure you won”t be able to resist once you read on and discover her charm. (All photos are taken by Hilary and the links to the recipes are below)
What is the earliest Christmas memory that you can recall?
Probably the annual visits from Mrs. Claus at my daycare centre. The staff found that a lot of young children were frightened of Santa, so kindly Mrs. Claus always filled in for her husband. She brought little gifts and delicious decorated sugar cookies.
What is your favourite Christmas recipe?
My grandma”s brown sugar shortbread. My grandmother is an excellent baker and she did all the Christmas baking when we were growing up. She does less now – last year she didn”t bring any shortbread and there was a near riot! On the other hand, my least favourite Christmas recipe is the herring salad we eat on Christmas Eve on my dad”s side of the family. I will never come around to cold, pink, fishy salad.
What is your favourite Christmas tradition?
Our family Christmas includes a lot of ritual and tradition. Definitely the strangest one happens on Christmas Eve when we gather for a traditional German Christmas celebration. We all have to wait in a “holding pen” room until whoever is hosting rings a little bell. Then we all file into the decorated living room in order of age – and you”re not exempt until you”re about 90! Everyone knows their place in the queue after years of practice but newcomers to the tradition think we”re a little strange.
What does your perfect Christmas Dinner consist of?
A plate full of stuffing and vegetables, and very little turkey! When I was a kid we had goose a few times and I want to go back to it. Regardless of how it”s cooked I find turkey a dry, uninspiring bird.
Did you ever believe in Santa?
I caught my mum out when I was 8. It was probably November and we were taking the bus home from a shopping trip downtown. I asked her if she had done any Christmas shopping yet. “Oh, I”ve bought a few small things for your stocking.” Immediately her hand flew to her mouth in horror at what she had said. And I just gasped and smiled. I felt very grown-up and sophisticated knowing this secret. What my mum said next was obvious: “Don”t tell your sister!”
What is your favourite Christmas Song?
My favourite carols are O Holy Night and O Come, O Come Emmanuel. What can I say, I like solemn dirges. My favourite Christmas pop song is kind of mournful – it”s River by Joni Mitchell. To me it”s about spending Christmas in a lonely and foreign place. In the song she reflects on a failed relationship and longs to escape her emotional baggage in California for the winters of her Canadian childhood.
Do you have any tips or super simple, throw together, recipes that would make peoples lives a little easier this time of year?
I”ve got nothing, because except for making stollen and muffins for Christmas breakfast, I am required to do no cooking at Christmas! (Lucky!)
Find the Recipes in the Pictures
Some of my favourites from Let Her Bake Cake
Thanks so much Hilary for humoring me and giving us a sneak peek into your Christmas Holidays! Now everybody head on over and satisfy that sweet tooth!
“Dear Mrs. Claus” is a fun collection of photographs and recipes from around the world that we are hoping will find their way into our homes via Mrs. Claus. For our first wishlist I have chosen a few of my favourites from around the web. They are all creative, fun, and delicious. (Make sure to click through to view the recipes!)
This Pacific Christmas Cake with Tropical Fruit and White Chocolate from Pease Pudding may very well be the very first one that I actually want to eat.
Remember you are Mrs. Claus” inspiration so if you have some Christmas pictures waiting to be shared please send me a link to your post and I will be happy to add it to the Mrs. Claus collection (feel free to bring some up from the archives). Just e-mail me at [email protected] And, make sure to tell your friends. The more the merrier and the fuller our cookie trays!
The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.
If you know me well, then it is no secret that I am a bit of a Christmas fanatic. I know it may seem strange for someone my age to get so excited about Christmas, but who can resist all those warm and fuzzy feelings that are invoked at Christmas time? I feel like a child again when the first snow falls, reminding me of the love and warmth that surrounds you when you spend time with the ones you love. It is irresistible to me and I can”t help but get excited. A holiday dedicated to peace, joy and love. What could be better?
This year I get to go home for Christmas. In fact, I am already here. I was not able to bring my camera equipment with me so things are going to be looking a little different around here over the Christmas Holidays. But, not to worry, there will be lot”s of goodies to go around with the “Dear Mrs. Claus” post sshowing up on Mondays, featuring all of your wonderful Christmas recipes. (If you are interested in submitting your Christmas photos visit this post) And, I will be doing Christmas interviews with some of my favorite bloggers. In the New Year I will be up and running again with my photos and recipes, but for now I thought it quite fitting to share the love and goodies from other bloggers. That”s what the season is all about right?
Being that I will not be able to post all the Christmas recipes that are spinning around in my head, I could not resist squeezing one in before I left for home and the Daring Bakers Challenge provided the perfect opportunity. Therefore, traditional Cannoli became Cannoli Christmas Trees. They are layered with raspberry, white chocolate and pistachio ricotta fillings and spruced up (ha) with icing sugar snow and pomegranate lights. I think they”re pretty cute. And, tasty too. :)
I made my own ricotta for this challenge and have linked to the recipe below. I use this recipe often as it is so simple to make and I find it cheaper and fresher then store bought. It is also helpful because you can make the amount needed so there is no waste.
I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas Season and are able to sit back, relax, and enjoy time with ones you love.
Cannoli Christmas Trees
- cannoli stars (large and small)
- raspberry ricotta filling
- white chocolate ricotta filling
- pistachio ricotta filling
- pistachios, chopped
- icing sugar
- Place one large cannoli star onto serving plate. Top with raspberry ricotta. Top with another large star and add a dollop of white chocolate ricotta. Top with one more large star and top that with pistachio ricotta. Sprinkle with additional chopped pistachios and stick a small cannoli star into the ricotta point side down.
- Sprinkle with icing sugar and pomegranates if desired. Serve immediately.
- 2 cups flour
- 2 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp. white wine vinegar*
- 1/2 cup wine (Marsala is what is traditional used)*
- Vegetable or any neutral oil for frying (2 inches deep)
- In the bowl of an electric stand mixer or food processor, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the oil, vinegar, and enough of the wine to make a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and well blended, about 2 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge from 2 hours to overnight.
- Cut the dough into two pieces. Keep the remaining dough covered while you work. Lightly flour work surface and roll the dough until super thin, about 1/16 to 1/8” thick (An area of about 13 inches by 18 inches should give you that). Cut out 4 inch star shapes as well as 2 inch star shapes. Cover with a damp towel and let sit for several minutes to help keep the dough from shrinking.
- In a deep heavy saucepan, pour enough oil to reach a depth of 2 inches. Heat the oil to 375°F (190 °C), or until a small piece of the dough or bread cube placed in the oil sizzles and browns in 1 minute. Have ready a tray or sheet pan lined with paper towels.
- Dock the cannoli with a fork, making sure to go all the way through. This is to avoid the cannoli from puffing up in the centre. Carefully lower a few of the cannoli stars into the hot oil. Do not crowd the pan. Fry until lightly golden, about 2 minutes, turning them so that they brown evenly. Remove to paper towel lined tray to cool.
* I substituted the wine with apple juice and upped the vinegar to 1 Tbsp to make up for the lost acidity.
Raspberry, White Chocolate & Pistachio Fillings
- 1 cup dry ricotta (or half this recipe)
- 2/3 cup icing sugar
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. lemon zest
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 2 Tbsp. each, chopped pistachios, chopped white chocolate, crushed raspberries
- Cream together ricotta, sugar, cinnamon and zest until smooth.
- Whip cream to soft peaks and fold into ricotta.
- Divide into 3 bowls. In one bowl fold in pistachios, in another fold in white chocolate, and in last fold in raspberries.
* If you want more vibrant colors feel free to add some food coloring.
* You can use fresh or frozen (and thawed) raspberries for this filling.
Many times I have morned the loss of some sort of food item that I thought I would never find here in Norway. Most of them I have let go of, knowing that I need to embrace these cultural differences and use them to make me a better cook. But, every once in while I get a delightful surprise and discover one of these long lost joys hidden amongst the shelves of one of my local grocery stores. Every time I find something new I have to resist the urge to jump up and down, squealing with glee. Some days I am able to cooly reach over, keeping my face precariously still so that there is not even a twitch to show how excited I really am inside. Other days I just cannot contain myself. When I finally discovered some canned green chilies at a newly found grocery store, I didn”t even have time to think before I yelped out a “yay” and let loose with a little hop (to my own horror). I cannot say this emphatically enough: I HEART GREEN CHILIES!
One of my favourite uses for green chilies is my Mom”s recipe for White Chili. This has been a favourite of mine for years. And, since my husband doesn”t care for the ground beef-tomato version (I know, shocker!), this is what I make when we are in the mood for chili. I must admit that I do enjoy the regular old chili myself, but if I was given the choice I would almost always choose this one. It is soo flavourful, spicy, creamy and comforting. And, no tomatoes! Great for those of us who get indigestion just from glancing at a tomato.
I like to serve this with tortilla chips. In fact, they replace my spoon. I also think that Smitten Kitchen”s Jalapeno-Cheddar Scones would go marvellously with this. I haven”t made them yet, but they are very high on my to make list.
If you are in the need for a chili-change-up I highly recommend that you give this recipe a try, and let me know what you think!
- 1 pound chicken breast, cubed
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1.5 tsp. garlic powder (or 3 cloves, minced)
- 1 Tbsp. oil
- 2 cans (15.5oz each) white kidney beans
- 1 can (14.5 oz) chicken broth
- 2 cans (4 oz each) chopped green chilies
- 1 tsp. oregano
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup half and half
- In a large saucepan saute the chicken, onion and garlic in oil, over med. heat, until chicken is cooked through.
- Add beans, broth, chilies, and spices. Bring to a simmer.
- Add sour cream and half and half just before serving. Heat up but do not bring to a boil or it may separate.
* I often substitute the white kidney beans for butter beans for a richer flavour.
* If you are in a pinch you can chop up some canned jalepenos in place of the green chilies, but only put in half the amount.
* If you do not have enough broth, use enough water to substitute and add some chicken bouillon.
* You can sub half whipping cream and half milk for the half and half. I have also made it before with regular milk and soy milk. Tastes just fine it”s just a little more soupy.
* This is not one of those chili”s that you want to have simmering on the stove all day. I would not let it simmer for longer then 30 min. or it will loose most of it”s flavour.
We have been freezing our little behinds off over here in the land of Norge. The sun is still refusing to show it”s shining face and the cutting wind is making our walks to the grocery store not quite as enjoyable as they once were. I must be burning a lot more calories though because not only am I practically running everywhere I go, but my body is working hard at not becoming a solid mass. I know that Max is feeling it too because after his morning porridge he runs around the house teeth chattering, looking like he is desperately trying to warm up. That is when Mommy brings out the sweaters and the socks and he gets all bundled up to play inside. (We live in an apartment building and do not have control over our thermostat, for those of you who are wondering why we don”t just turn up the heat.) The sole control we have of warming ourselves up is to either bundle up or get something baking in the oven. Either is fine with me because I like being snuggly warm and eating freshly baked goods. Which brings us to this wonderful Banana Rum Chocolate Chip Pound Cake. The perfect thing to warm you up on a cold day.
Like many of you, one of the first food blogs that I ever read was by the talented and witty Helen of Tartelette. I was so enthrawled and inspired by her recipes that I spend days browsing through her archives to see what other goodies I had been missing out on. That is where I found this gem. It has since become my go to recipe when the bananas are starting to turn black, replacing my ever reliable Sour Cream Banana Bread.
There are so many ingredients in here that get my heart pumping with excitement. The cream cheese, sour cream, and bananas keep it ever so moist. The tropical flavours of rum and coconut keep it interesting. And the ooey gooey chocolate chips keep it comforting. Seriously, take a look at those ingredients and tell me that you do not want to run into the kitchen and make this immediately. Get to it!
Banana Rum Chocolate Chip Pound Cake
adapted from Tartelette
- 2 1/4 cups flour
- 1 Tbsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup cream cheese, softened
- 3/4 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 bananas, mashed
- 3/4 cup chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup finely shredded coconut
- 1/4 cup rum
- Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
- Combine sour cream and cream cheese. Set aside.
- Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated.
- Add 1/3 of the flour and mix until well combined. Add 1/3 cream cheese mixture and mix well. Continue alternating until all flour and cream cheese is incorporated.
- Fold in bananas, chocolate chips, coconut and rum.
- Pour into 2- 9×5 lightly oiled loaf pans. Bake at 350ºF (180ºC) for 30-40 min. or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
- Let cool 10 min. in pan before removing to wire wracks to cool completely.
* Alternatively you can bake this in a 10 inch tube pan, but keep in mind that the cooking time will increase.
* If you do not wish to use real rum then by all means substitute it with a teaspoon or two of rum extract. But, PLEASE don”t leave it out because it would just not be the same without it. Also make sure to add 1/4 cup of another liquid to make up for the missing rum.