Thursday, December 23, 2010

our Christmas open house

This year, I was very excited to host our first Christmas Open House. We sent invitations to friends that we see often, and others that we don't see as often as we'd like. We planned for people to come and go during the afternoon and enjoyed talking with them all. The treats were easy holiday cookies, and warm drinks which stayed out throughout the afternoon for tasting! *I made way too many cookies, so our co-workers at the daycare and the bank enjoyed our leftovers on Monday!* I remember a childhood friend whose family hosted an open house each year. I thought it was a marvelous idea and have always wanted to do something similar. I'm really thankful that Matt enjoys hosting as much as I do, and was excited to visit with friends in our home too. We're hoping it can become an "annual" Christmas Open House for us, changing a bit each year.

Here are a few pictures for our far away friends, and some recipes you all might enjoy :)

This apple cider recipe came from my friend Lauren, who'd recently made it for another friend Kimberly's baby shower... it's wonderful and simple too :)
Apple Cider
1 gallon apple cider (mine came from ALDI)
1 tsp whole cloves
1 tsp whole allspice
1/4 c brown sugar
3 cinnamon sticks
1 orange peel
Pour apple cier into Crock-Pot. Add brown sugar, cinnamon sticks, and orange peel to cider as it warms. Using a loose leaf tea strainer (I'm not quite sure what it's called) add cloves and allspice, then float in cider as well. Serve when warm.

Clementines are always delicious and remind me of Christmas... mostly because Amy is thrilled about the orange in the bread on the movie "Little Women" which they then give away to a family in need. But the orange was a prized Christmas treat to them all. The clementines were also so pretty in this bowl.

Next were the Swedish Thumbprint Cookies. This is another easy recipe that tastes so heavenly!
1 c butter, softened
1/2 c white sugar
2 c sifted all purpose flour
1/2 c jam (I like raspberry)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.
Add flour and mix well --you'll use all the flour even though the consistency will seem to change a lot and look pretty thick.
Shape dough into 1" balls and place on cookie sheets.
Use 1/4 tsp to press indentation into cookies.
Fill indentations with jam.
Bake 15-20 minutes until golden brown at the edges of cookies. (Mine were a little over done in the picture!)

We also enjoy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cookies (in the covered cake stand) which I made from a recipe Meghan gave me. I've taken them to work where they've been a huge hit and even made them with my 4 year olds who also loved them. A new holiday favorite for sure!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
dry ingredients:
2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

wet ingredients:
1 can pumpkin
1 stick butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1 c sugar
1 egg

1 bag chocolate chips... I like using the mini ones

Mix dry ingredients.
In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients by hand until creamy.
(Pieces of butter may still be visible, but should be well incorporated and pretty small.)
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix well.
Stir in chocolate chips.
Bake at 375 degrees for 12-14 minutes.
(These cookies don't expand much during baking, and will still look moist even when they're finished cooking.)

The last cookies I made were cranberry pecan cookies which I found in the Taste of Home Quick Cooking 2010 cook book.
1 tube (16-1/2 ounces) refrigerated sugar cookie dough, softened
1 cup chopped pecans
2/3 cup vanilla or white chips
2/3 cup dried cranberries
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl, combine the cookie dough, pecans, chips, cranberries and vanilla. Drop by tablespoonfuls 2 in. apart onto ungreased baking sheets.
Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool for 2 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks. Store in an airtight container. Yield: about 3-1/2 dozen.

I hope to share more of our Christmas traditions soon... hope the Christmas season has already been a sweet time for each of you and your families.

1 comment:

Nikki said...

Hi Laura! I found your blog through your profile...we've both listed "Let Me Be A Woman" as a favorite book. Your recipes look wonderful--I've made a similar thumbprint cookie several times, and they always get gobbled right up.