We're queuing up a movie for the boys, and I'm all snuggled here in my couch corner with a few magazines to read and some strawberry jam toast. :) But before I button up the laptop for the night, I wanted to post the picture below *and* a few recipes I've mentioned recently.
First the tracks:
There are a whole bunch of these in our yard. All around the feeders and even the front steps! We checked the handout from our Nature Club meeting the other day, and we're thinking maybe raccoon? I considered squirrel, but I think they're too big. We may scout out the rest of the yard tomorrow and see what other tracks we can find while the snow lasts ...
... which according to the weather report should be for some time. We won't have any fresh snow for a while, but the temperatures are going to plummet over the next few days. Fifteen for a high on Monday! Bittah cold, as we say here in New England.
And what warms one up better than something fresh from the oven? Here are a few yummy wintery recipes you might want to try. We've made all these goodies lately and enjoyed them very much. :)
White Hot Chocolate*
- 4 cups whole milk
- 4 cups half-and-half
- 1 pound white chocolate, chopped
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 8 to 10 vanilla beans
In a saucepan on medium heat, heat the milk and half-and-half to just below the simmering point. Remove the pan from the heat and add the white chocolate. When the chocolate is melted, add the vanilla and whisk vigorously. Reheat very gently and serve with a vanilla bean stirrer in each cup.
(Serves 8-10. From The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook)
*This is so, so good. Buttery smooth and sweet. I was thinking this would make a nice Eastertime cocoa, since it's still chilly in most parts of the country in the early spring. They even sell those pastel bunny shaped marshmallows! Or you could make your own if you were feeling ambitious. ;)
*The recipe can be found online here and the name says it all; these are downright delicious. I made these yesterday for friends who had come for lunch and the kids ate up every last crumb! I made another batch this afternoon for Bill and the boys. It was surprisingly easy to mix them up, too.
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup butter at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar for about 3 minutes, until creamy. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the bowl with the rubber spatula. Add the egg and vanilla and beat on medium speed until blended. Turn off mixer and add the flour mixture. Mix on low speed just until blended. The dough will be lumpy, like moist pebbles.
Dump the dough onto a work surface and press together into a solid mound. Divide in half. Press each pile into a flat disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 3 baking sheets with butter. (Note: I used Silpats.) Sprinkle a work surface with some flour. Unwrap 1 chilled disk of dough and place it on the floured surface. Sprinkle the top of the dough with a little more flour. Roll out dough with the rolling pin until it is about 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle more flour under and over the dough as needed so it doesn't stick. (Note: I rolled the dough out between sheets of waxed paper with very little extra flour. I had no problem with sticking.)
Cut shapes out of dough and place on baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes, until light brown around the edges. Cool for 15 minutes and then move cookies onto a cooling rack and let cool completely. Repeat with rest of cookies.
(Makes about 36 cookies. From Williams-Sonoma Kids Baking)
*Kind of time consuming, but a solid recipe. I have another one I want to try - from the dove cookie cutter tag, actually. It looks simpler. I will let you all know how they turn out!
Frosting for Cookies*
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
Melt butter and combine all ingredients. Beat until smooth. Add food coloring if desired.(Note I omitted lemon juice.)
(Yield 1/3 cup. From Ann Clark Ltd., The Cookie Cutter People from Vermont)
*The vanilla I used made the frosting beige instead of white. But it tasted fantastic!
Well, thanks for stopping by, everyone ~ keep warm and be well!