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 well...love 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 hand...you 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 !!!

Monday, December 14, 2020

Home for Christmas

 Home for Christmas

Decorating our home for the holidays - we decided that even if we were the only ones to enjoy the decorations we needed to "haul out the holly"!  Last year we spent our first Christmas away from home on a wonderful Viking Ocean cruise, so we did very minimal decorating and no tree.  There was discussion of not putting out all the Christmas paraphernalia and even getting a small, table top tree. But in the end we got in the Christmas spirit and now we enjoy the decorations every day.
Note:  Please excuse some of the photos.  My camera decided to break down and I have not yet replaced it.  Took all these photos on my phone...some are wonderful, some not so much.  
The wreath on our door is made of Cat's Meow houses that were a gift from our dear friends.  Remember when these houses were a huge thing ?  We had many all over the house and a bunch on the top of the breakfast nook window in a previous home.  We'd switch them out with these for Christmas.  These are the It's A Wonderful Life series.  That movie is our favorite...for so many reasons.  It is a wonderful story on it's own...but so many things reflect our life.  My dear husband worked in a small bank, I was a librarian, and we just embraced the movie.  So much so that I hired actors to come to the bank on my husband's 50th birthday on Christmas Eve and act out the movie...hah!  A "bank examiner' showed up first and told him $8,000. was missing!  It was amazing.  Then on his 60th we spent the weekend in Seneca Falls, NY - the town turns into Bedford Falls for a weekend and does all things ITAW!  Fabulous time...and we even got to meet Zuzu!
So, these little homes were the perfect gift for us.  But, then we moved to a home with no breakfast nook window.  I attached wire to the back of the homes and put them on a live wreath in our dining room - perfect.  I did not want the wreath out in the weather so the houses would not get damaged.  Then we moved to an apartment...and since our front door is no longer outside this has become our Christmas wreath.
On all of the pieces there is a little black cat...thus the "Cat's Meow" houses.  I had so many pieces...including trees for each of the seasons - but they were sold at our moving sale and I hope they are being loved in someone else's home.
The Building and Loan...
Gower's Drug Store..."HOT DOG"!

Martini's...and in Seneca Falls the Italian Restaurant changes there name for the IAWL weekend...

Erinie's Taxi Cab is here, too...

And, of course...320 Sycamore!  I added some silk rose petals for Zuzu's petals.  And a bell  - that rings everytime we open the door...and everytime a bell rings an angel gets his wings!  Very few people realize the meaning of the houses on our wreath, but that is ok...we love it!
St. Nicholas wears his mask....

And our version of Elf on a Shelf welcomes everyone to Our New Vista!
Our entry is ready to welcome guests...wish we could have guests this year...
When we spent the weekend in "Bedford Falls" they rang all the bells and if you donated to charity your could have the bells ring in honor of someone.   The bells rang for my wonderful husband!

I like to pull out our photos with Santa from our childhood..and our visit to Macy's many years ago...
These little elves were purchase from Hallmark the first year we were married - 1977 - and we have used them to hold our stockings and to decorate each year since then...
A little decoration for the wine rack...
And in the kitchen...that Santa wine bottle makes a great lamp.  I bought that wine as a gift for neighbors years ago..and cannot find it any longer!
The little mouse with the cookie cutter was a tree ornament, but I think he looks perfect in the kitchen...
We always put my dear Uncle Joe's cane near the fireplace after we watch Miracle on 34th Street...

This wreath hangs on the door to the patio...
A simple cookie cutter wreath on the coffee table...
A N.C. Wyeth Santa Claus...love this print...

All our Christmas cards go in this basket...we like to save them and look at them through the year to remember the people in prayer...
A little bit of snow and red for the mantel...

An elf watching over the kitchen, perched on my grandmother's bread making bowl...

A little cheer for the stove...and burning Yankee Candle Mistletoe...it smells WONDERFUL!
My mother in law's beautiful Nativity set...
Cheer at the sink...
Simple centerpiece...
I did pull out my holiday dishes, but did not fill the hutch with all the pieces this year..

Our tree...with my Aunt Mamie's antique doll ( that she got for Christmas in 1908 or so..) under the tree...

And this cozy spot, on a snowy day...perfect for a good book, a cup of hot chocolate, and time to dream and watch the snow fall.
Today is another snowy day and this week we are supposed to have a really BIG snowstorm...I love it!   We no longer have to drive in it or shovel it...just watch it fall!  I will be making some cookie dough today to get the cookie making started...and then I intend to read a good book ( In A Holidaze by Christina Lauren) and enjoy our holiday home!
Thanks for stopping by Our New Vista today.  Are you decorating for the holidays ?  Doing it all - or going low key?   Would love for you to leave a comment below .  Have a wonderful holiday season...better days ahead for us all!

Trip !

  TRIP !!! And not the trip we were looking forward to...out for a walk and waiting for the crosswalk to say WALK.  A tractor trailer turned...