December 20, 2010

Decorations and Baking!

Here are a few decoration pics from around the house as well as 2 simple recipes for Homemade Peppermint Marshmallows & Parmesan and Thyme Crackers. 
(Andrew's Note: I can vouch for the awesomeness of both of these things)
You will have joy, even if it is 75 degrees outside. (If you look really closely, you can see the Wii sensor bar sitting on the "O" of JOY.  Priorities, people.)  (Also, you may notice only one small dachshund sized stocking...we're hoping that Chile gets the hint and finally takes a hike for good.)

Perhaps it's time for a new candle, I think Won Ton got hungry...

Newest decorative addition, given to me by a student.

This is what happens to naughty dachshunds....

Went a little ribbon happy this year....  (I had never had ribbons on my tree until I met Allison.  I like it...but next time you see her, ask her what she thinks about real trees vs. fake.  Then grab a bag of chips and be prepared to sit for a while)
In addition to decorating, I now have time to bake!  

First on the agenda... bribing the neighbors.  We've lived here for a year and a half and haven't yet figured out their names.  (Of course we have!!  There's Guy With A Truck, his wife Lady With A Truck, and their daughter, Screamy Girl.  On the other side there's Couple With A Baby and their older son, Lawnmower Kid.  See, I pay attention!)  They however, tolerate Chile and Won Ton barking at 5:30 AM every day, so I figure we owe them something for not reporting us to the neighborhood association.  

Here are two recipes I made this afternoon.  Each is super easy make and extra hard to give away..

Homemade Peppermint Marshmallows 

3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 cup cold water, divided (Good luck dividing water, Moses!)
1 cup light Karo syrup
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 Tbsp peppermint extract
Red gel food coloring (optional) (Allison got sparkly kind)
Baking or cooking spray
Powdered sugar for dusting/stick-proofing

Place 1/2 cup cold water in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Sprinkle the gelatin over top and set aside.

Clip a candy thermometer to a small sauce pan. Heat corn syrup, sugar, salt, and the other 1/2 cup cold water over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Turn to high and cook to 240 F (use a candy thermometer), 6-8 minutes longer. 

Turn mixer to low and slowly pour the hot syrup over the gelatin. Add the peppermint extract. Increase the mixer speed to high and let run for 15 minutes until you have a glossy, smooth, and thick marshmallow mixture.

While the marshmallow is whisking, heavily coat the inside of an 8×8 pan with baking spray. Coat with powdered sugar and tap out the excess. Pour in the marshmallow mixture. Drop 6-8 drops of red food coloring over the top and swirl with a knife held vertically.  Let sit for 4 hours until solidified and cooled.

Turn the marshmallow squares out onto a heavily powder-sugared surface. Using a long greased knife, cut the marshmallows into 1-inch pieces (they’ll be 2 inches tall if you don’t cut them in half horizontally, which I did). As you’re cutting the marshmallows, keep all sides of the marshmallows dusted with powdered sugar and store in an airtight container.
 (It's customary to spill 2 - 3 cups of powdered sugar on each dachshund, which they seem to enjoy quite a bit)

Parmesan & Thyme Crackers  

Seriously, the whole house smelled AMAZING.

1/4 lb. (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
4 ounces freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup)
1 tsp. minced fresh thyme leaves
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour  (Again, up the amount for prime dachshund spillage)

Place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix until creamy. Add the Parmesan, flour, salt, thyme and pepper and combine.
Dump the dough on a lightly floured board and roll into a 13-inch long log. Wrap the log in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 30 minutes to harden.  (Log is one of my favorite words :-)

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut the log (tee hee :-) crosswise into 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick slices. Place the slices on a sheet pan and bake for 22 minutes.

Love this time of year!!  What about you?  We would love to hear your favorite Christmas recipes!
Neighborly gifts!  (AKA Please don't hate us and our loud dogs who climb trees gifts!)

1 comment:

  1. I have to make these! Yum! Would make great teacher gifts :)

    So my fav is Creme Brulee Bread Pudding :) We make it every Christmas morning. yum!

    And guess what's on my counter rising right now?? a doubled batch of your challah recipe, but I added orange zest, mace & cardamom :)