Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Pizzelle Cookies - An Italian Christmas Tradition

In December of 2012, I wrote a post about Pizzelle Cookies, how my dad would make them every year, and how I was super excited about my own CucinaPro Pizzelle Maker that I purchased from my cousin Dino earlier that year at Valente's Deli Bakery & Italian Market. I also said that I was excited about starting an annual tradition in my home to continue the pizzelle making each year with my own family.  

Well.  That didn't happen.  But it's OK - I had other areas of my life that required focus!

This year - the tradition started again.  I only made 8 batches and happily shared them with close friends and neighbors as well as a couple of colleagues who live nearby.  My cousin Matt made some pretty cool looking half and half pizzelle cookies a couple of weeks ago - I had high ambition to make that happen, but opted for vanilla instead.  

My dad used to make them every year - lots of them.  My brother, along with many other family members have kept up this tradition that holds strong within my large Italian family.   I followed the recipe my dad always used (less the anise) and made vanilla pizzelle cookies this year.  I'll make the traditional anise ones next year!  

My dad always made them at the kitchen counter with a dish towel draped over his shoulder (or around his neck in this photo!)  I made sure I did the same, there is something about the dish towel over the shoulder that makes the cookies just that much more special :)

Photo Taken By: Scott Leisure

What family baking or cooking traditions do you still follow?  

Traditional Italian Pizzelle Cookies
Makes about 4 dozen - this is a double batch
{If you want to make vanilla pizzelle cookies, omit the anise seed}

2 sticks of margarine, melted or at room temperature
1 1/3 cup sugar
6 eggs
3 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla
dash salt
anise seed (1 tablespoon or to taste)

Combine the sugar into the melted butter in a large bowl.  Add the remaining ingredients, stirring after each one.  You can also combine the ingredients in a stand mixer or food processor.

Using a pizzelle iron, make the cookies according to the manufacturer's directions.  As they are made, let cool on a wire rack, then stack in batches of 12.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Meet Red White - Our Elf On The Shelf

Red White joined our family in 2012 - about a week before Christmas, it was perfect!  In 2013, he arrived the weekend of Thanksgiving - that was a little too early.  This year, hee arrived in our home just a few days ago. The boys made "Ninjabread" Cookies for him that day - hoping for his quick return!

Along with thousands of other bloggers, I decided to create an Elf On The Shelf post.  Our silly elf has been up to many shenanigans - here are photos of some of my favorites!

Happy Elf-ing!

Right Outside of the Breakfast Room - The Oldest Boy Really Jumped When He Saw Red White!

Tree Skirt Made By My Mom For Our First "Married" Christmas - Fabric From My Wedding Dress Is In There (She Added To The Train - It Was Her Dress)

His Scarf Appeared

Karaoke Party

We Had A Party The Night Before - With A Photo Booth and Props.......

Go Arizona Wildcats!

Reading 'Twas The Night Before Christmas

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Salted Caramel Chocolate Cupcakes

We celebrated Thanksgiving at the home of some good friends this year.  For an appetizer I brought Roasted Cranberry Apple Brie Crostini with a KahlĂșa Glaze and we also enjoyed Tex-Mex Deviled Eggs before the big feast.  Both were devoured by the guests in no time!  We also made a Apple Cider Brined turkey to roast and The Hubby made his "famous" Roasted Garlic Mashed Red Potatoes with Rosemary & Parmesan.

In addition, I wanted to bring a dessert - but not a pie, I knew there would be plenty!  While picking up my "Thankful" Shirt from The TomKat Studio Shop in Chandler, AZ, I found these adorable Brown Stripe Candy Cups that also work for baking - they would be perfect for Thanksgiving cupcakes.

To make the cupcakes, I started with a box mix of milk chocolate cake and followed the instructions for the cupcakes.  Next, I found this recipe on My Recipes for the salted caramel frosting. You'll either need to make it just before frosting the cupcakes or if you need to make it ahead of time, store it in the refrigerator and microwave for a few seconds to soften it.  Add the salt after frosting each one (rather than waiting until all are frosted).  The salt will "stick" better just after frosting.

I was pretty excited to pile these high using an open star decorating tip, but on Thanksgiving morning before heading to our friends' home, was unable to locate mine!  It was fine - the round one worked out fine too!

Unfortunately, I wasn't super happy with the quality of my photo - but no judging please!  These cupcakes were quite good - they are perfect for the holiday season!

Salted Caramel Frosting
Recipe from My Recipes

1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup butter
1/3 cup heavy cream
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Bring first 2 ingredients to a rolling boil in a 3 1/2-qt. saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly.

Stir in cream, and return to a boil; remove from heat. Pour into bowl of a heavy-duty electric stand mixer. Gradually beat in powdered sugar and vanilla at medium speed, using whisk attachment; beat 7 to 10 minutes or until thickened. Use immediately. Sprinkle frosted cake with sea salt.