Friday, December 18, 2009

Heart and Home's Sweets and Treats

Hi everyone! How's it going? I've been pretty busy around here just like the rest of you. but I will admit I feel petty good right now --  I've gotten almost all my to-dos done! Not bad! I just have to wrap gifts and plan the menu for Christmas dinner. Still have no idea what I'm making, I just know it won't be a turkey. Once a year is plenty of turkey for me and the family. Right now I'm debating between preparing game hens, prime rib, or the old simple stand by ham. Considering there's a whole week left before Christmas my decision will probably change about 3 or 4 more times!  What is your favorite thing to make for Christmas dinner? I could use some interesting options....

One thing I always leave plenty of time for each year is one of my favorite holiday family traditions of baking cookies. The only time in 21 years that I didn't bake anything was the year our kitchen was being remodeled and I didn't have an oven! But I missed the mess and the aromas, and most of all the finished products! Which I will admit I sample freely throughout the holidays, and give away to friends and family.

My mom always started baking right around Thanksgiving, She made so many different types of cookies we would often lose count, and sometimes the cookies themselves would become misplaced. She would hide them all away in big metal cans on shelves in the garage until about a week or two before Christmas. Only then would she allow us to sample one or two after dinner. Several  times, many months after the holidays, we came across unopened cans that Mommy had forgotten about! Nevertheless, we always had plenty to go around and we gave big boxes to all our neighbors, friends, and our school teachers. I remember being very proud of the beautiful array of traditional German holiday cookies, arranged  perfectly in paper-doily-lined boxes, which I had helped my mother bake, pack and wrap.

Before I start baking, I make one big ingredient shopping trip to stock up on all the butter, eggs, flour, sugar, nuts, spices  and  chocolate that I'll need. Then I stack up all the baking ingredients on the kitchen counters , and I put aside a couple of days to really get busy. Now that my girls like to help we can whip up all kinds of goodies in a pretty short amount of time.

This is what my kitchen looks like for a few days at the beginning of every December:

This year I baked about nine or ten different types of traditional holiday cookies, and some five-minute fudge, too! I make most of the same things every year, but I also like to add a new recipe every now and then.

This time I decided to add Linzer cookies to the list. I've always loved them, and looked for a recipe that was easy to follow, and sounded delicious.

I didn't take long to come across a great recipe at Cooks.Com. (Click here and you'll go right to a printable page with the recipe). The hardest part of this recipe is staying away from them once they're baked!!

They were a tiny bit labor intensive, but very much worth the extra effort. They are tasty!
As a matter of fact, I just taste-tested (another!) one right now, just to be sure I should recommend them to you! (yes,  yummy!!)

All these other goodies are cookies that have been baked at our house for years and years. My mom used to make them, and now my sisters and I do, and someday I'm sure my daughters will carry on the tradition.

I still haven't made any gingerbread, or German lebkuchen, (I'll do that this weekend), and Mr. H and H and the girls still need to decorate the sugar cookies. They always spend an afternoon or evening doing that together, and they have a great time coming up with new colors and themes for the stars, bells, trees and angels.

I think we have plenty of treats to enjoy, and share with our friends. I know from my own personal taste tests that each variety is delicious, and for health reasons I make sure each one fits into one of the basic food groups (yup, that's right: fats, and sugars!!)

The time and effort it takes to bake all these goodies is worth it due to the delight they bring my family.  We've shared some really fun moments together in the kitchen, the girls have learned their way around a mixing bowl and a recipe, and we all really enjoy the results of our labors! While we have many family holiday traditions, baking cookies together remains my favorite, and is something I look forward to every year. What about you?  I'd love to know your favorite way to ring in the holiday. Thank you, Beverly, at How Sweet the Sound, for Pink Saturday!  Also, I'm a late addition to Foodie Friday, at Designs by Gollum. and I'm linked to Welcome to Our Crazy Kitchen,  here, too! Happy Holidays!

Until next time,

Date and Walnut Bars   330 degrees   5-10 min prep, 30 minutes baking time

3/4 Cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sliced dates
1 cup chopped walnuts
powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 330 degrees F. Grease a 9"x 9" x 2" pan, line the bottom with waxed paper cut to size.
Mix the dry ingredients and eggs with brown sugar and vanilla, add dates and walnuts and stir until mixed. Spread in prepared pan, bake 30 minutes until set. Do not overbake!! Cool slightly, invert and remove from pan. Remove wax paper and cool completely. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, cut into squares. Enjoy! This recipe can be doubled and baked in a 13" x 9" x 2" pan.

Heidi on Foodista


Kristen said...

Thank you for sharing all of your gorgeous cookies. I am having a hard time chosing a favorite.

Cottage Rose said...

Hello Heidi; My goodness, so many great looking cookies,,, yummy,, reading your post brings back memories of my own cookie baking day,with family. I always had a day for baking cookies with my two girls and my sister and her family,,,we had so much fun.... have a great weekend....
Merry Christmas;

My Carolina Kitchen said...

Heidi, what a lovely assortment of cookies. A wonderful tradition handed down from your mom. I like the ones with the stars - they have a home-made look that I think is particularly appealing. Your date & walnut bars sound great too. Merry Christmas and happy Pink Saturday.

Liz said...

Hello Heidi. i've just been catchig up on your Christmas preparations and I love it all. traditions are such a wonderful thing to have and I try to do purs every year. your tree looks fabulous and I did laugh at the sunshine you had on the day you went to choose it. We don't get that here! It looks great now it's decorated and thank you for the trip around the decorations. the doves are perfect and a lovely reminder from you wedding.
Samuel and I are baking next week once we've finished school so this weekend I'm looking out cookie recipes. i hope ours turn out as well as yours have.
Have a very Merry Christmas from a very chilly Scotland :0)

Its So Very Cheri said...

I've got to get started after I get back from the grocery store. So many things on my plate.

I have had so many Google problems-and it isn't over-Google has no idea how to solve the problem.
Sorry I haven't been by much-I decided after weeks and weeks of non-stop Google issues, I am throwing my hands up and making much needed visits.
I hope you have a Very Merry Christmas and hope you can come by for a visit. I will continue posting, even if it doesn't show up in the Reader.

someplace in thyme said...

Oh I wish my kitchen looked like yours, it's fantastic and I bet the smells are perfect. It all looks so good and I want some of it. Happy Pink Saturday and have a Merry Christmas, see you in 2010, Char

Michael Lee West said...

Whoever visits your house this Christmas will have delicious fun. I've been meaning to make Linzers for a while. Yours look scrumptious. Loved your peek into your foodie laboratory (aka kitchen).
Sweet wishes,

Kathy said...

The cookie baking tradition beginning with your mom sounds very much like mine. My mother always baked tons of cookies and treats for Christmas - she still does at 80! Until the last 5 or 6 years I always did the same thing too. I plan to do some baking next week. Your cookies look wonderful, Heidi!

Merry Christmas...Kathy

Regina said...

Merry Christmas!So yummy! wonderful.
Thank you for sharing.
Enjoy the Holidays.

Regina said...

hello heidi,
wow!!! your chrismas cookies looks so wonderful.
linzer cooies ,lebkuchen and vanillekipferl are
my favorite cookies for christmas.I started my christmas baking in the mid of november.bake your mom christstollen,too?
i wish you and your family a merry christmas and a happy new year,

Our Back Porch said...

YUM-O!! Those Christmas goodies look fabulous. My mouth is watering! lol Happy Pink Saturday and Merry Christmas! Come by if you get a chance.

Back Porch Blessings,

fitty's pinky rose cottage said...

gosh.. you make me drools by just looking at your cookies! all so yummylicious! if we were to live in the same continent.. am sure to give you a visit.. just to taste that delicious cookies.. my dad love cookies with dates in it.. thanks for sharing.. Happy Pink Saturday & Merry Christmas

Joyce said...

If you hear a noise in your kitchen in the middle of the night it may just be Santa and also the cookie monster. Cookies look delicious and I would like to be your neighbor so that I could just happen to stop over with some excuse just to eat those cookies. My Mom and her sisters would bake every weekend for a full month and put the cookies in tins like your Mom and store them in the cold basement. If you returned the tin to my Mom and Aunts you were guaranteed a box of cookies in the tin the next year. If you kept the tin you were off the list:)