"Meal" Planning Monday

Only if Your "Meal" Consists of Christmas Cookies Edition

As promised last week, here are some Holiday recipes for all of you. I've broken my list up into sections, and I hope you all enjoy the recipes I'm sharing.

Tried and True Favorites

First a family favorite, that was my Grandma Memar's recipe: Russian Tea Cakes. My mom told me today that she made these ever year at Christmas time, and my mom does the same. Since my mom will make these and we're spending Christmas with them, I'm skipping making these this year, but that doesn't mean you should. They're really good.
Russian Tea Cakes
1 c. butter
1/2 c. confectioners sugar (plus more for rolling the cookies)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
2 1/4 c. sifted flour
3/4 c. finely chopped nuts (usually walnuts or pecans)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream together butter and sugar. Mix in vanilla. Stir in salt, flour and
nuts. Form dough into 1 inch balls.
Bake for 14 to 17 minutes.
Roll in confectioners sugar when hot and again when cooled.

Next, here are a couple of Aaron's favorites: Magical Mint Kiss Cookies and Birds' Nest Cookies. While the Magical Mint Kiss cookies are among his favorites, it's not Christmas for him without the Birds' Nests, and I'll agree; they're delicious!
Birds' Nest Cookies
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Favorite Bars and

1 c. butter
1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
2 egg yolks
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 slightly beaten egg whites
2 c. finely chopped walnuts or pecans
1/2 c. seedless fruit preserves (we typically use raspberry

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar and beat until combined, scraping the side of the bowl occasionally. Beat in egg yolks until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer, and then stir in any remaining flour using a wooden spoon.

Shape dough into 1 1/4 inch balls. Dip each ball into the egg whites and then roll in the chopped nuts to coat. Place the balls one inch apart on the prepared cookie sheet. Press your thumb into the center of each ball to leave an indent. The deeper the indent, the more space you'll have to fill with jam when they're done, but don't press too deep either as if you make it too thin the middle may burn.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are light brown. Transfer to a
wire rack to cool. When cool, fill with preserves. Store in single layers
separated by wax paper.

Some of my other favorites that I make every year are Rugelach and (while not exactly a cookie I'm adding it here) fudge (aka Rachael Ray's 5-minute Fudge Wreath). Neither of these will disappoint and can be endlessly tampered with to make countless varieties, including using all peanut butter chips for peanut butter fudge, and using different flavors of jam in the rugelach.

New Recipes I'm Dying to Try
(Not literally of course, but they sound delicious.)

Every year I buy the Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Cookies magazine (much to Aaron's chagrin since I have about 8 years worth of these magazines already and he thinks that this is more than adequate; he obviously doesn't love to bake like I do). The cookies (and other sweets) I'm dying to try all come from this magazine, and include Chocolate Pretzels, Strawberry Shortbread (the only one of these that I'm most definitely adding to my baking list), and Crunch Caramel Bites.

(I'm posting these recipes here so as not to make this post so incredibly long that you get bored halfway through.)

Other Seasonal Favorites

Another Christmas-time standard around here is the Buche de Noel. This is another of Aaron's favorites and is absolutely delicious. One note on this one though is that while making my Thanksgiving Pumpkin Roll I discovered a new trick to make my usually ugly-but-delicious buche de noel a little prettier. Instead of just lining the jelly roll pan with parchment paper, butter the pan first, then put down the parchment paper then butter and flour the paper. It worked like a dream for the pumpkin roll so I don't know why it wouldn't work in this case too.

If you're like me and prefer to do most of your holiday baking in one day, you'll need some heavy-duty baking fuel to get you going, and this Breakfast Casserole is my absolute favorite (I substitute the cubed potato type hash browns for the potato rounds, but otherwise follow the recipe exactly). It's the perfect recipe to put together the night before and then throw in the oven right when you wake up.

And just in case you're not exhausted after all this baking, I've come across a holiday craft I'd like to try out: a gumdrop wreath. Doesn't that look easy and cute? I came across this when I was cruising Alicia Paulson's beautiful and inspiring blog and flickr photos. She makes me want to do so much more crafting and baking than I do already, and she's super talented! (Can you tell this is my new blog crush?)

Finally, I wanted to let you all know of a temporary feature I'll be doing for the next couple of weeks - my very own "Twelve Days of Cookies". I'll be posting a new cookie recipe here for the next eleven days (making 12 days total). I hope everyone loves them!


Sizzle said...
December 2, 2007 at 8:25 PM

so much good stuff in this! that gumdrop wreath is cute. i can't wait for 12 days of cookies - love the recipes you link/post.

you've got a blog crush just in time for the 2nd annual blog crush day coming up dec. 14th. ;)

Anonymous said...
December 3, 2007 at 10:57 AM

*drools* Thank you! I was planning on just making cookies but...MMM... Buche de Noel! I might have to try it.

anne at annenahm.com

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