children, christmas, divorce, Holidays, home life, recipes, single parenting, Winter, Yule

On the First Day of Cookies

My true love made with me…
Italian Nut Balls …. or as some people may call them Thumbprint Cookies.
Before I had a million kids it was always so easy to whip out multiple batches of a dozen or so different cookie recipes during the holiday season. I have come to realize that the more children that are added to the family, the less time I have for anything that isn’t following after them cleaning up their paths of destruction. So, last year I decided that I would have each able child pick out a recipe that they would like to make with me and if I had time I would expand on that by myself. I’m sad to say last year we didn’t even make all the cookies that each child requested. In my defense I had just had baby 6 and was still trying to get used to adding another human to the family minus a husband.  I’m hoping that the 5 oldest kids will all get to make what they chose this year. 
Since the 4 oldest are still in school today and tomorrow before winter break starts, I thought Persephone and I could make her cookie choice. I am hoping to get the majority of cookie making done during the next two days because Wednesday is not only the first day of winter break, but it is also the Winter Solstice and I plan to have a little celebration with the kids!  We are going to do grinch night again with a grinchy themed feast and a showing of the Jim Carey live action movie.  We did it last year and they loved it. Well, Ophelia was indifferent but she’s also a high schooler. I also got the kids a little something warm and cozy they can open on the Solstice morning. Sally informed me he knows it’s clothes because he squished them! 🙂 haha

Then Santa will come by on xmas eve night and bring those fabulous children a gift. Later on xmas day the rest of the family will come by and we will have dinner and gifts with them. 
Persephone chose to the thumbprint cookies because she was excited about rolling the dough in to balls and smooshing her tiny thumb down 🙂 She is my go to gal when making and rolling meatballs as well.
Persephone helped me chop up all the nuts too! We’ve been practicing chopping with real knives. She’s so good about keeping her little fingers out of the way! I have actually noticed knife control improvement since the first time I let her help me chop a couple months ago. 



While the cookies were in the oven she took a break to wiggle on the floor.


After they came out I placed them on a cooling rack and she filled each cookie with jam. We did raspberry jam in half and blackberry jam in the other half.

Valentino watched, not so patiently. Thankfully he didn’t grab all over the cookies!


And since she didn’t have a xmas apron I let her have the last one that was in my shop. She loves the hungry caterpillar so it was perfect for her!

CHEESE!


Oh how she loves little baby ears! 🙂


Such a sweet big sister!


My little Krinkles (Valentino) with jam face! I let him lick the spoon when Percy Pie was done with it. 
I got this recipe from my mom years ago, and now to pass it on to you..

**I always use organic and/or local when possible.**
Italian Nut Balls / Thumbprint Cookies

Preheat oven to 350 F

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup butter

2 egg yolks (reserve whites)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

* in a large bowl or mixer combine ingredients, mix well

2 cups flour

* gradually add flour until well mixed
2 reserved egg whites, slightly beaten

1 – 1 1/2 cups finely chopped nuts (we use pecans)

Roll dough into 1 inch balls. Dip dough ball in to egg whites, then nuts

Place on greased or parchment paper lined cookie sheet about 2 inches apart, make a deep depression in center of cookies with finger/thumb tip.

1/2 cup jam or preserves

Bake at 350 F for 10 – 12 minutes until firm to the touch and lightly browned. Immediately remove from cookie sheet, while warm fill centers with a little jam or preserves, allow jam to set before storing.  Store covered or in the fridge for about a week. 

Yield 3 – 4 dozen

(Today we got exactly 31 cookies)
Buon appetito! 

What are some of your favorite holiday treats?

Standard
img_3720
christmas, Holidays, home life, single parenting, Winter, Yule

Visiting Santa at Skagit Valley Gardens

Since we missed the correct date to see Santa last year I made an appointment to guarantee we would make it this year! 
This last Saturday we made it down with time to spare. Valentino was not a happy boy!


 But I was able to get some cute photos with the other kiddos. Ophelia and Settimio didn’t want to be in all of them but the professional photographer got a few. I get to pick up the photo cd next weekend, with all the photos the professionals took. So for right now I just have the photos on my phone. 


My oldest brother and his son met us there and my nephew  Jacob got to be in some of the photos too.

Skagit Valley Gardens always looks so magical with the many trees dressed up for Christmas. It is one of my favorite places to ornament shop, though I have to admit this isn’t quite so fun with all the little ones!

He looks so sweet when he isn’t crying!

Afterward we went back home for lunch, then headed over to Nanas to decorate some shortbread cookies. I never seem to get photos of that! Always too busy either helping or trying to keep a baby distracted. 
A little less smooth running than in years passed but all in all it was a nice day. 
These might be the last photos you see of Settimio with his luscious hair 😔 he wants me to shave his head over winter break!!

Standard
recipes

Hummingbird Cake for Valentinos 1st Birthday

Today my little pumpkin butt is 1! Holy cow! The time goes so quickly. I have noticed the accelerated passage of time more as I’ve gotten older and had children. It’s easy to see as seasons pass, birthdays and holidays anticipated then quickly fly by. 


Well, today I made my squishy fella a Hummingbird Cake for his first birthday. I got the recipe years ago from a magazine and tweaked it here and there. It’s a pretty forgiving recipe. I’m not sure where the name “Hummingbird Cake” comes from but it consists of Bananas, Pineapple, Pecans, and various spices.  If you don’t have enough bananas it’s ok, too much pineapple, throw it in!  I also like to put in more pecans than called for and I chop them up as tiny as I can. Some people may prefer to keep the pecans chunks a bit bigger. Do what calls to you!
Top this delicious cake with cream cheese frosting and your tastebuds will thank you.

We’re going to make a layer cake!

-Pre-heat oven to 350 F

-Butter and flour three 9″ cake pans.

Grab a large bowl for the dry ingredients, add to it

3 cups flour

2tsp cinnamon

(I also like to grate a bit of fresh nutmeg, or throw in some allspice)

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

Sift together or stir gently with a fork

To an electric mixer bowl add

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup brown sugar

3 large eggs

Mix thoroughly then add

1 cup vegetable oil

2 tsp vanilla extract

Mix well then add all dry ingredients at once. Mix until moist and thoroughly combined.

Add

2 cups (4 large ripe) mashed banana

1 cup crushed pineapple (canned ok)

(Usually I use a whole can!)

1 cup chopped pecans

Mix until just blended.
Divide batter among 3 floured pans.

Bake at 350 F for 25 – 30 mins or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool for 5 mins in the pan then turn out into cooling rack until completely cool.

Frost with cream cheese frosting.

Cream together in an electric mixer bowl

8 oz cream cheese – room temperature 

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter – room temperature 

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 – 4 cups powdered sugar depending on your taste preference. I usually use less than more.

You may need to double this to cover the entire cake.

Store cake in the fridge (overnight is best so all the flavors meld and love each other). Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

Voila!


So delicious even Mr. Zombie Pants will forsake his usual feast of brains to partake in this culinary delight.

We practice safe eating in this house! Baby on the edge of the table with a fork in hand!


New hat from Uncle Joe!

My mommy loves my sweet face! (Don’t mind the mess, We are still unpacking!)

I love lamp.

Peek-a-boo!

The sweetest smile! Melts my heart!

Standard