Thursday, December 27, 2012

Knitted Stars

I'm sure it's been a busy week for all of you with the Christmas holiday.  I had a great time with my family.  I'm anxious to take down my Christmas decorations since they have been up since the day after Thanksgiving!

I wanted to share a recipe with you but I realized that it was too late - I had already made it and forgot to take pictures!  So, instead here is a quick, fun project that you can do.  It's knitted stars and they are so much fun to make.  They are made on DPN (double pointed needles) and you can use sports weight or DK weight yarn.  You only need a little amount so it's a good project to use up odds and ends.

Stars are popular at Christmas time but you can also use them anytime of the year in different color schemes.  I plan on making a number of these in red, white and blue and use them in a 4th of July wreath.  Here is the pattern:  

1 set DPN size 3
small ball of sport weight or DK weight yarn
darning needle

And the finished product!

I hope you enjoy this project.  I would love to hear from you if you wish to comment.  I will leave you with my best wishes for the New Year.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Scones

I follow a wonderful blogger who lives in the north of England.  The other day she sent out a recipe for Christmas Biscuits.  I was so excited to try the recipe so I prepared all the dry ingredients yesterday thinking that I would wake up this morning and make these wonderful biscuits for breakfast.

Well, I took another look on her blog and found out that these "biscuits" were really cookies!  I should have known this.  My daughter spent two wonderful years in England and I know that the British call our cookies biscuits and they call our cakes and desserts, puddings.  I guess my age is getting the best of me.

Anyway, I still went ahead with my Christmas biscuits this morning, but I made them into scones.  When I go to coffee shops and order scones, they are usually so dry.  And, if you add too much butter, they are too rich.  I hope you will like these.  They go great with a morning cup of coffee.  Here is my recipe:


2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup finely ground almonds (almond meal)
1/4 teaspoon of:  allspice, nutmeg, ginger, mace, cardamon and cinnamon
1/2 cup softened butter
1 egg, beaten
"scant" 1/2 cup of milk

1 egg for eggwash
decorator sugar

In large mixing bowl, mix dry ingredients together.  Blend in butter until mixture resembles cornmeal.   In small bowl, beat egg and add the milk.  Pour into dry mixture and blend just until it sticks together.  (Dough may be a little wet but don't add more flour).

 Place dough on floured board and flatten with hands to a thickness of about 3/4".  Cut out with your favorite biscuit cutter.  Place cut out biscuits on parchment lined pan.

 Beat 1 egg with a teaspoon of water for the egg wash and brush each scone with egg and sprinkle some sugar on each.  I used this colorful decorators sugar.

Bake in a 375  degree oven for about 15 minutes (or a little more depending on which type of baking pan you use).  Bake until just lightly browned on the bottom.  

 Remove pan from oven and place scones on wire rack to cool.  This recipe makes about 15 scones.


Enjoy with a cup of hot coffee or your favorite beverage!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Egyptian Christmas Cookies "Petit Fours"

If you have read this blog before, you know that my passion is knitting.  But my other passion is baking cookies.  I love to create special holiday cookies.  In years past, I made close to a dozen different types.  But, since my husband and I are empty nesters now, I make a few favorites.

My husband is Coptic.  You normally wouldn't think of Egypt celebrating Christmas, but the Christian community there does celebrate and it's a special time for special foods, especially after the long Advent fast.  These cookies are quite popular there during Christmas or Easter.  They are easy to prepare.  The most complicated part is clarifying the butter.  So, here is the recipe:


Take 1 pound of butter (or 3/4 pound) and put into a small covered saucepan.  Place on low heat and heat until butter melts.  Do not let it boil.  After it is melted, remove from heat and pour into a tall skinny glass or other vessel.  You will notice that the milk solids begin to drop to the bottom of the glass and the clear liquid butter "ghee" is on top.  Pour off the butter into a 1 cup measuring cup and a 1/4 cup measuring cup.  Place in refrigerator and let cool until it is solid.  It's probably best to make this a day or two in advance of making the petit fours.  If you only end up with 1 cup of clarified butter, you can use  1/4 cup of regular butter for the additional butter needed in the recipe.  I use only unsalted butter.


1 1/4 cup clarified butter (room temperature)
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 eggs (not extra large)
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 to 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In mixing bowl, add butter and sugar and mix until creamed.  Add in eggs and vanilla and mix until blended.  Add in flour, 1 cup at a time along with baking powder.  You may need to mix by hand at the end after all the flour is incorporated.

Divide dough in half; half will be left plain and the other half will be mixed with the cocoa powder to make chocolate dough.  If you prefer, you make make 1/4 chocolate dough or 1/2 or whatever you wish.

Put dough in cookie press and press out on ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees 8 to 10 minutes or until bottom of cookies are very light brown.  You don't want them to color but you do want them to be done inside.  Remove from oven and cool on cookie sheet.

You will then sandwich them together using your choice (or a mixture of) apricot jam, melted white chocolate or dark chocolate.  Place a little jam or melted chocolate on one cookie and place the other cookie on top.  Dip the end of the cookie sandwich into melted chocolate and into sprinkles or nuts.  You can mix it up a bit.  The traditional way is to sandwich them together with apricot jam, brush a little apricot jam on the end and dip in chopped nuts.  I used white chocolate since I found out I didn't have any apricot jam in my pantry!! 

You may think they are like the Danish spritz (I'm Danish) but they have a little different texture.  This is because of the clarified butter and powdered sugar.  They have a lovely "melt in your mouth" texture which I'm sure you will enjoy.

Feel free to add comments if you have any questions.  Happy baking!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Holiday Tea at the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort

Time goes by so fast!  I can't believe that it's already December 1st and the holiday season will soon be here!  I had a lovely day today.  My daughter invited me to a Holiday Afternoon Tea at the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point, CA.  It's a short drive from our homes and it turned out to be a wonderful afternoon.

As you may recall, I'm new here to Southern California.  I love the weather and most of all, I love being near my wonderful grandson and my family.  But, I sometimes miss the quaintness of my home town.  Today's outing gave me new memories that I can share and hopefully it will be an annual Christmas adventure that my daughter and I can do.

This is a Christmas tree made of chocolate.  It not only looks beautiful but you could smell the chocolate!!  We enjoyed touring the hotel and seeing the decorations.  I thought this was a unique way to display a Christmas tree:

 Here's a photo of my lovely daughter, Heidi. 

 We had great service at the tea and enjoyed the canapes', delicious tea sandwiches and delicate sweets. (The French raspberry macaroons were to die for!)  We didn't realize that it also included a holiday martini!

 It was truly a lovely afternoon that I hope we can experience again next year.  If you wish to know more about the tea, you can contact the St. Regis at 800-722-1543.  The tea is served Thursday, Friday and Saturdays now to December 22nd.

 I will leave you with a picture of my "save the planet, green tree".  It's a little Norfolk pine that I found at my local grocery store.  Since it's a live tree, I can use it next year.  And best of all it can be an indoor plant.  I think it looks so cute!

 My children of course do not approve of this tree but I do have a full size tree but it's a fake tree and they don't like that either!!

 At least I accomplished getting the home deocrated for the holidays.  I wish each of you a wonderful holiday season!