Monday, January 4, 2021

Snow Decor & New Year's Dinner


Snow Decor & New Year's Dinner

Goodbye 2020...and here's hoping 2021 is a better year for all of us!  Very happy to see the year end.  I was a bit more motivated to put away all the Christmas decorations so the New Year could begin.   I like to decorate in a winter/snow fashion for January - the Snowbuddies pictured above is usually on our Powder Room door, but since we are having no guests who would see it I decided to put it on the door to our patio where I can see it every day.
A simple piece for our coffee table....this was an old brass tray I sprayed with silver hammered spray paint.   The balls were purchased several years ago at K-Mart after Christmas for a bargain price.  I like the blue and silver sparkly balls, and the white balls have a snowflake design on them that I think says "winter"!

I love the way this cozy reading nook turned out...the snowflake pillow was purchased last year at Hobby Lobby after Christmas...the snowman scattered throughout the house I have had for years.   I love rescuing my green plants from the windowsill in the guest room and returning them to their proper place.  
Found this little silver bird at Kohl's a few years ago....I move him around each year.
Dining room table gets the same basic design...and I just love the clean look of the blue and silver after the holidays.  Don't get me wrong...I love decorating for Christmas, but by New Year's Eve I am ready to see it go back into storage!
A few more decorations scattered around the apartment...

Picked the snowman plate up at the Yankee Candle store...and the winter dessert plates at a steal at Hobby Lobby.  So wishing for a time when we can have company and serve some goodies on those cute plates.
Snowman wreath is very old...when we lived in another home several years ago the neighbors would joke that it would always snow when I took down the Christmas wreath and put this snowman on the door.
Hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday celebration.  Do you have any traditions for New Year's Day ?  Living in Lancaster, Pennsylvania it seems everyone here has Pork and Sauerkraut to ensure good luck for the New Year.   When I was a child our entire family came to our home for New Year's dinner and my mom would always make Slovak Halupki...or stuffed cabbage rolls.   She used pork and beef and with cabbage as a substitute for the kraut (thought I think she layered some sauerkraut in the pan, too) it fits the bill for a New Year's Dinner. This dish is pretty easy to make...just takes some time.   I don't have my mom's recipe, so this is taken from several recipes I found online...
Halupki - Cabbage Rolls

1 large head of cabbage
1 lb. of ground beef ( I used very lean beef)
1 lb. of ground pork
1 cup rice...I used brown rice
3 cans of tomato soup
2 eggs
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbls. minced onions

Remove the core from a head of cabbage...
Drop into boiling water and peel off the leaves as they come loose..
Drain the leaves and let them cool ...

The packages of meat I found were more than one pound each, so I took some been and made patties to freeze for burgers...

I put everything in my big mixer...
Added the onion, rice, eggs, one can of the soup, and a squeeze of ketchup...
Cut the large vein out of the end of each piece of cabbage,
Then take a small amount of the meat mixture and place it on the end of the leaf of cabbage.  I apologize...I got so caught up in rolling them I forgot to take a photo of that process.  Place the meat mixture on the bottom end of the leaf, fold in the sides, and roll up...
Then lay the rolls seam side down in a large baking dish ( I used a blue enamel roaster that I got the first year we were it's vintage!) that has been sprayed with non stick cooking spray.
Chop up the smaller leaves and remaining cabbage into small pieces...
Place the cabbage pieces on top of the rolls - here is where I remember my mom putting sauerkraut, as well as layering some under the rolls.   I did not do that, but may try it next time.
Pour the remaining two cans of tomato soup over all, pour 2/3 a can of water over all, and drizzle with ketchup.  
Cover tightly with foil - or a lid to a roaster - and bake for 1 and 1/2 hours at 350 degrees until the temp of the rolls is at least 165 degrees.   You can also make these ahead of time and refrigerate until you want to put them in the oven, but then add more oven time.
And then enjoy !  These turned out SO good and reminded us of our childhood.  My mom always served them with mashed potatoes, peas, and applesauce.

While they were cooking I set the table for New Year's Dinner...
And then we sat down to a wonderful dinner.  We like to spoon some of the sauce over the mashed potatoes.   They turned out great...and as with all tomato kind of dishes, the leftovers tasted even better.
This recipe made about 24 rolls....WAY to much for us - we ate 2 .  So...
I placed 4 in freezer safe dishes for a later dinner, and I took a container to our neighbors who are of Eastern European heritage and always give us a ring of their homemade kielbassa...I knew they would enjoy them!
My mom would always make lemon meringue pie for was such a nice treat after all the Christmas cookies.  But, we are trying to eat healthy and if we had an entire pie, we would eat it.  So I made a lemon pudding cheese pie and was able to freeze that so we can enjoy it when we enjoy the leftover halpuki.   Now that I have made these again I think they will be a regular rotation on our menu.  So good !
Once the Christmas decorations were stored away we blessed our home for Epiphany. As a small child I remember the parish priest would come to bless our house for the New Year.  We keep the tradition by saying a prayer, sprinkling the rooms with holy water, and praying that everyone who comes into our home will find it a place of peace, love, and blessing.  Then we take chalk and mark the year, and the initials of the Three Kings ( Casper, Balthazar, and Melchior) over the front door to guard our coming and going.  Another old tradition that we love!
Do you eat any special foods to celebrate the New Year ?   How about your tree and holiday decorations - how long to you keep them out?  Please let me know what you think in the comments below, and thank you for stopping by Our New Vista today!  Wishing you peace, health, and happiness in 2021!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Merry Christmas Cookies

Christmas Cookies

To me, it's just not Christmas unless there are lots of cookies!  No matter how much I say "we are NOT going to overdo it this year" and  "we are going to eat healthy"...Cookies always win!  I think this comes from my mother's tradition of making tons of all different kinds of cookies for the holidays.  Her cookies were delicious and beautiful.  She gave so many gifts of tins full of cookies...and everyone loved her cookies.  Pictured above are cookies made from her sugar cookie dough.  You can see the recipe below is " well loved".  The name scribbles in in red pen is Mrs. Kushki.  In the 1930's my mom did housework for Mrs. Kushki - I remember my mom saying she was the Penn State Home Economist at that time.  These cookies, as well as my mom's famous chocolate cake that my father loved, are recipes from Mrs. Kushki.  I always say a little prayer for both my mother and Mrs. Kushki when I make these!

Here is the recipe - 
Cut Out Sugar Cookies

1 cup butter, room temp
2 cups sugar
3 eggs, beaten
6 Tablespoons of milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
5 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder

Cream butter and add sugar gradually.  Add milk, vanilla, and extract to beaten eggs.  Alternately add sifted dry ingredients with liquid mixture and mix well. Chill dough.  Roll dough out 1/4 inch thick, cut with cookie cutters.  Brush with an egg wash and decorate with sugar.  Bake at 375 degrees until golden brown.

I can't tell you exactly how many cookies this makes...I always forget to count - but it makes A LOT!

In an effort to make these sort of heart healthy for my wonderful husband I tweaked the recipe this year...and I was concerned the cookies would not taste as good, or spread too much.  But they worked out fine.  I used this "plant based buttery sticks."  I usually use Smart Balance and measure from the tub, but this was easy to use with the sticks.
Mix the eggs, milk, vanilla, and extract together.   My mom's recipe called for anise, but I prefer a hint of lemon.  I also used fat free milk.
Mix my KitchenAid mixer.  It's over 20 years old and starting to show wear...may need a new one!

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill till firm.
Roll out the dough on a floured counter or silicone pad and cut out cookies in holiday shapes.  I have lots of newer cutters, but these were my mom's and I love using them the most.

I also use a cheese cloth cover on my rolling pin...that keeps the dough from sticking to the pin.
Here is my wonderful husband, John - the best cookie decorator.  He really does a great job...making beautiful tree designs, every reindeer is a Rudolph, and he is so precise.  I like to say that some artists work in oil, some in water colors, some in clay....John's medium is SPRINKLES!
You can see the television in the background...our tradition is to watch/listen to the 1988 Peter, Paul, and Mary Holiday Special while we bake these cookies.  Such amazing music...we were lucky enough to see this concert live at Carnegie Hall one year.  So sad that Mary is passed away...think of her as well as we make our cookies.
This batch is ready for the oven.   Love our Eiffel Tower cookie !
Here is a closer look at the finished batch of cut out cookies!
This year I also made spritz cookies.  I had an old cookie press...the kind you have to twist and press.  
A few years ago I found this one on the clearance rack at Ross.  I forgot I had it.  Since we are not making the Snowman Cookies this year ( too much fat, too much work, no company so we would eat too many...) I decided to make some spritz cookies. Here is the link to the Snowman Cookies...if you never made the, try them.  You will love them !  Snowman Cookies
Somehow I lost my mom's spritz recipe, but they are all pretty much the same so I just used one I had on can find one in most cookie cookbooks and plenty online, too.

Luckily, my mixer still held up to work on another batch of cookies...
I used the tree disc...
I tinted the dough green...I was lucky to get the last bottle of green food dye at my local grocer store.
This new press with the trigger was super easy to use.   I can see making these cookies for many occasions.  My mom used to use the flower disc to make red cookies and put a green cherry in the middle to make a poinsettia!  I used some red sugar and some sprinkles for toppings.
I added a little almond extract to these and they taste wonderful.
So...even though I said I was not going to make too many cookies....I made chocolate chips with red/green m&m's as the chips, gingerbread men and stars, magic cookie bars with dark chocolate, and oatmeal cranberry white chocolate cookies along with the cut out cookies.
I packed about a dozen or so into Christmas treat bags for neighbors...
Here they are, tied with red ribbon and a great tag from On Sutton Place - Thanks, Ann - you always have great ideas on your blog and I love your printables!  The tins you see are for some friends who are getting some cookies but also a small loaf of Pumpkin Nut Bread.  Here is the recipe I use for muffins and make in small pans for the holidays - 
Even with giving away lots of cookies we still have TONS left for us to enjoy.  I love to fill a Christmas plate with a variety of cookies to enjoy with a cuppa tea while watching a good holiday movie.  Along with all the classic Christmas films we enjoy some old films...Watched "Remember The Night" yesterday and it was amazing.   As I was packing up the remaining cookies I noticed the "Tupperware Seal" on my "vintage" green bowl.  The Cut Out Cookie Recipe makes enough to fill this bowl.

Thank you so much for stopping by Our New Vista.  Please leave a comment below and let me know what kind of cookies you are making, if you give them as gifts, and any family recipes.   Now, it's time for a cuppa tea and probably a few more cookies.  Merry Christmas...and I will end here with a favorite quote that sums up this crazy year - 
"It is a miracle if you can find true friends, and it is a miracle if you have enough food to eat, and it is a miracle if you get to spend your days and evenings doing whatever it is you like to do, and the holiday season - like all the other seasons - is a good time not only to tell stories of miracles, but to think about the miracles in your own life, and to be grateful for them, and that's the end of this particular story."  Lemony Snicket, The Lump of Coal

Merry Christmas to all !!!

Snow Decor & New Year's Dinner

  Snow Decor & New Year's Dinner Goodbye 2020...and here's hoping 2021 is a better year for all of us!  Very happy to see the ye...