Bake With Tradition
I feel it’s important for our children to not only be book smart, but kitchen smart too! To share our love of baking and cooking and learn how traditions incorporate them. The holidays have come and gone, but it was a great time to start new and continue old traditions.
I made a gingerbread house for the holidays a few years back and intended to make one every year. I had a Gingerbread house kit leftover from last (2008), but I was too pregnant and busy and kind of forgot about it. So the kit sat in my kitchen until I had time to work on it this year. My oldest (Julie) and I assembled and made the icing, however, we had some problems with the assembly and I kind of forgot about the icing…and it hardened in the bowl! (huzzah for royal icing!) When we had some more time and the youngest was napping, we made some more royal icing, turned on some holiday tunes courtesy of Pandora and sat down to decorate! Julie was determined to use EVERY last bit of candy I had set out for us. It was fun just spending time with her as she would weave a story about the Gingerbread man who lived in the house. How he’d play in the sandboxes (brown sugar) outside, shiver when he was cold and then run inside to warm up! She was very proud of her house and would show and tell everyone about it when she saw them! Picked up a tip from my hairstylist, who actually has been doing a similar tradition for 20+ years with her own kids: use graham crackers and store bought icing. All the little kids would make their houses and word spread. As the kids got older and older she would have a competition to see who could make the best house, with cute little prizes for the kids. Those kids are now college students and competing on teams of their friends during the holidays! Here’s some pictures of our gingerbread house adventures!
Julie’s birthday falls a few days before Christmas. We have always tried to make the two events separate and we’re finally at the point where she knows about Christmas and KNOWS what a birthday is! I think she spent all year planning what to have at her birthday: friends, cupcakes, pink, balloons, music, cupcakes…PINK, pink pink! First off, we made some cookies for her to take to school. Then we let her pick what else she wanted for her birthday. For her first two birthdays, I used a Mini Stand-up Bear Pan by Wilton. The first year I really did make a bear with it, then for her second birthday I made it look like a bunny since she was into Max and Ruby. This year we asked Julie what she wanted and emphatically asked for ‘pink cupcakes with pink frosting.’ She picked out a box of cake mix with daddy and then we would make some frosting at home. I opted to try some icing utilizing Marshmallow Fluff and Julie decorated the cupcakes with plenty of pink and red sprinkles! She definitely had a lot of fun decorating the cupcakes for her friends and family!
Holiday Meals and Celebrations
Every year always brings unexpected surprises as to who is in town, out of town, passing through, working etc. Since we had kids, we’ve pretty much set aside Christmas Day as the day we stay home and pretty much hang out in our PJs all morning eating something like cinnamon rolls while we open presents. This year was no different. Since I seem to be pretty unlucky at making cinnamon rolls, Dave made cinnamon rolls for us. They were quite delicious and I forgot to take a picture!!!! While we waited for the coffee to finish we started opening our stockings. I was pretty excited to put a rutabaga in Dave’s stocking, sort of as a joke and play on a lump of coal and since he’s always talking about rutabaga.
A few days after Christmas, my mom and sister came over for a visit. Normally we do the dinner and family visit thing, but I thought we would take a break from the ordinary and do brunch (quiche post) instead. Here’s Dave pouring some champagne into the OJ for mimosas. He is wearing the Apron I got him for Christmas – Real Men Don’t Use Recipes. And finally, because every brunch needs a dessert we made Black Bottom Pie (Rum and Chocolate Custard with a whipped egg white topping). I got my first chance at blind baking a crust, which is actually a recipe/process by itself. The crust turned out pretty decently, but there was some shrinkage. The pie was super tasty and I think four adults devoured over half the pie!
New Year’s Eve
Again, New Year’s used to be one of those nights we would have all our friends over sharing a few drinks and snacks. Now with the kids being young we have opted the last few years to do some family friend finger foods for dinner. This year (the pics did not turn out so well – I’m noticing a trend here!) I made mini pigs in a blanket, cheese and crackers, sugar and nut glazed brie served with sourdough and granny smith apples. It was all SO tasty. The following recipe is loosely based on a recipe by Paula Deen. We love bourbon and did not always have brandy so I made some substitutions.
Sugar and Nut Glazed Brie
- 1/4 c Packed Brown Sugar
- 1/4 c Chopped Pecans or Sliced Almonds
- 1 tablespoon Bourbon
- 1 (14 oz) round Brie
- Apple slices, for serving
- Bread cubes, for serving (Sourdough)
- In a small bowl stir together sugar, nuts and bourbon. Cover and chill at least 24 hours or up to 1 week. If you can’t, that’s fine too – still tasty!
- Pre-heat to 375 degrees
- Bake the brie in a round pie dish for about 10 minutes (without topping)
- After about 10 minutes, remove the brie from the oven and spoon the nut topping over the brie round. Continue cook for another 10 minutes until it looks like the brie is going to burst.
- Remove from the oven and let it cool for about 5 minutes.
- Serve and enjoy!