Saturday, December 28, 2013

Gluten Free Chewy Chocolate Cookies in Sunny California

Greetings! I hope that you had a blessed Christmas holiday season.  We didn't have a white Christmas here in sunny, warm, California but I can't complain.  We have been having a bit of a heat wave for this time of year.  I hope everyone had a safe journey reaching their holiday destinations.

We enjoyed having the family over for the holidays.  My daughter and her family enjoyed yesterday at Laguna Beach having a bonfire.

My little grandson absolutely loves going to the beach.  Here he is yesterday having fun in the sand.

Christmas day we decided to sit outside on the patio.  It was so sunny that my daughter had to put on sunscreen!

 All in all, it was a wonderful holiday celebration.  Here's a little craft item that I made from my Planet Penny Cotton:

They are hair clips.  I just crocheted the flowers free style and added some beads for embellishment.  I gave them to my friends who have small children.

I love to make cookies and this year I came upon a recipe for chewy chocolate meringue cookies.  After reading the reviews for it and studying the recipe, I came up with my own version which is slightly different.  I made them for my family and they loved them.  (I didn't taste them since I don't eat chocolate!)

Here's the recipe. I believe it's gluten free for those who cannot have gluten:

3 extra large egg whites* (if you use small or medium eggs, then use 4 egg whites) 
3 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
dash salt
1/2 Tablespoon vanilla or vanilla powder
1/2 bag ( 1 cup or more) mini chocolate chips

Parchment paper
*Have egg whites at room temperature for better results

In large mixing bowl, beat egg whites at medium high speed until frothy.  You do not want stiff egg whites but they should make soft peaks.  Beat in salt and vanilla.  With mixer running at lowest speed, blend in powdered sugar and cocoa powder.  Remove bowl from mixer and stir in chocolate chips by hand.  You should end up with a batter that keeps its shape.

Put parchment paper on baking sheets and lightly butter or grease parchment paper.  Place rounded "teaspoons" full of dough on baking sheet, about 2" apart.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for approximately 12 minutes.  You will see that cookies are "puffed" up and slightly "cracked".

Remove cookie sheet from oven and let cool on parchment paper before removing to cooling rack.

 Here's a sideways picture of how the baked cookies should appear.  I hope you enjoy this recipe!

Have a Happy New Year and I hope to be back next year with lots more fun ideas to share with you.

Happy New Year from
Pat & Lilly, too!

P.S.  I almost forgot, please stop by Handmade Harbour to see some wonderful craft ideas!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Wrapping up for Christmas

The blessed Nativity of our Lord will soon be here.  It's always a wonderful time of year that I always look forward to.  I love decorating the tree, baking Christmas cookies,  wrapping the gifts and attending the magical Christmas service at church. 

This will be my 5th Christmas here in sunny California.  Since that time, I have grown quite fond of my new memories here.  Every year there's a radio station that starts playing Christmas songs 24/7 along with the audio channels on the TV.  And, there are so many old Christmas movies that you can watch on TV.  There are a couple of neighborhoods in our area that really put on a wonderful Christmas lighting event.  The only thing I miss (a little bit) is a white Christmas.  I would like to have snow for two days and then have it disappear and be warm and green again.  But, of course, that won't happen.

The Presents are Wrapped:
Lilly really enjoyed herself yesterday:

The Cookies are Ready!
Last year I posted a recipe for Egyptian Petit Four Cookies.  I thought I would update the picture and give you a traditional way of putting them together.  In the previous post, I had put them together with white chocolate.  Here's a photo of them with apricot jam and coconut.  This is how they would traditionally be:

I also made my Grandma's Danish kleiner.  It's a yearly tradition that I make these for my children so here's a picture of them:

Almost every culture has a fried dough and the Danes are no exception.  These cookies are fried in shortening.  Here's how they look when they are done:

We didn't attend my husband's company party this year.  It was held in Washington state but we did get to attend a couple of local parties.  Here's a picture of my husband with Vicki, one of the Housewives of Orange County.  She hosts an annual Christmas party for her clients and she is a wonderful, smart and very nice person.  I don't watch her show but she runs her own business and is a real professional:

That about wraps it up for this blog post.  My little grandson has been with us these past two days since my daughter has the flu.  I do hope she will recover for the Christmas holiday.  We are so fortunate to be close to family in times of need.

I wish each of you a very Merry Christmas and the very best for the New Year.  I am so thankful to have met such dear people through this blog.  Please don't be shy to comment and say "hello".  And be sure to stop by Handmade Monday

Merry Christmas,
Pat & Lilly, too!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Egyptian Christmas Cookies

 Can you believe that it will be Christmas in less than two week?  Wow, time goes by so fast now!

Last year at this time I posted a recipe for Egyptian petit four cookies that seemed to be a popular post.  So, I thought I would share with you another Egyptian recipe for holiday cookies.  They are called "Sablee", after the French short pastry dough.  I got this recipe from my dear Egyptian friend, Vivian. Here's a copy of the original recipe that's over 37 years old!
 I know you can't read this faded recipe so here's a picture of the ingredients that you will need:
This year I bought the Crisco shortening in the sticks since it's premeasured.  So, it takes one stick of this shortening:
Here's the recipe:

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla powder
1 cup shortening
1 T water or less
apricot jam for filling

Mix the dry ingredients in a medium size bowl:
Add in the shortening:

Mix the shortening into the flour mixture until it resembles cornmeal:
Add a "little" bit of water - 1 T or less and mix dough just until it holds together:
 Don't mix the dough too much and please don't knead the dough as you want it to be light and fluffy:
This is how the dough will look after it comes together.  Now for the fun part.  Sprinkle your counter with flour and roll out dough until it's about 1/8" in thickness.  Cut with a cookie cutter and place cut out cookies on an ungreased baking sheet.
You will need to make half of the cookies with a cut out in the center of them.  Keep track or how many cookies you need for the bottom and the top. I use a drinking straw to make the center cut out!
Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for about 6 to 7 minutes or until lightly browned on the bottom.

Remove from oven and let cool before putting them together with apricot jam.  Just before serving, sprinkle the tops of the cookies with powdered sugar.
P.S.  This recipe calls for vanilla powder.  I bought some this year at the church bazaar:

 But if you don't have vanilla powder, just blend in some regular vanilla extract.  The vanilla powder gives a lovely scent to the cookies.

Coptic Christians enjoy these cookies for the Christmas and Easter holidays along with petit fours, and bescoot, ghoribeh, and kaak (sorry for the spelling of these last three; they are basically an egg based cookie that is baked in a long shape, a rich butter based cookie and a mahlab flavored buter cookie rolled in powdered sugar). 

I hope you will try this easy recipe.  My local Persian grocery store has them in their bakery case and they call them "French cookies".  They are fun to make and look nice on the cookie plate.

Happy baking and until next time, I wish each of you a holiday, fun filled week!

Happy baking,

P.S.  I almost forgot, please take a minute and visit Handmade Harbour and check out some great craft ideas!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Knit Zigzag Afghan and Chilly Nights

Hello my dear friends.  Finally, here is a post about my passion; knitting.  For those of you who visited last week, you will remember that there was a memorial about my dear mother-in-law who passed away on Thanksgiving day.  We wanted to remember her and let extended family here in the US and Egypt know about her legacy.  I felt the best venue to do this was my blog.  So, thank you for your patience since I know it was an unusual place to publish this memorial.

We are having a cold spell down here in Southern California.  I'm not going to complain since we don't have snow or ice but the thermometer has dipped into the 40's and it's suppose to be even colder the next couple of nights.  I look back now at all the years I spent shoveling snow, scraping ice and getting bundled up to go outside.  My children and I grew up in this kind of weather and I didn't know any different.  That was until I moved to western Washington where we had rain and now to California where we have sun almost year round.  I still laugh when I see my  neighbors decked out in Ugg boots and down jackets.  It's still not that cold around here!!

Drum Roll.............Here is my finished afghan that I have been working on (and off) since July!  I finally finished it last night since it's a Christmas gift for my daughter and her husband.  I ordered the yarn from  It an Aran weight yarn with 25% wool.  The wool really gives this yarn a wonderful drape and feel and yet it's still machine washable.

Here is a link to the  pattern.   It's called Knit Zigzag Ease Throw and it's by Coats and Clark.

 WT1078 Knit Zigzag Ease
(Sorry for the poor photo).  As you can see, the pattern calls for three different colored yarns.  I used one color throughout my afghan and I think it shows off the pattern much better.

On a side note, I absolutely love  They have a great selection of yarns and if you sign up for their e-mails, you will receive notice of sales that many times include free shipping.  Another favorite online yarn shop of mine is Paradise Fibers.  They are located in Spokane, Washington and last year I had the opportunity to visit this shop.  They offer great online specials; one special was a $60.00 skein of yarn with a special price of $15.00!  They too offer free shipping now and then. You just need to check their website.

Back in the day when I started to crochet and knit, I would buy my yarn at the local dime store (do kids today even know that that is?).  There was no Michaels of Joanns back then.  Then, one day I had a pattern that called for a special type of yarn.  My son told me to go online and check it out.  I placed my first online order  and I received this beautiful, spun wool from a family owned farm in New England.  I still have some of this wool.

Since then (13 years +), I find patterns that call for special yarns and I go online (to my favorite yarn shops) and shop for the yarn.  There are great bargains to be had online since many times they have discounted the yarn since it was last seasons colors, etc.  As you know, once you knit with nice yarn you don't want to knit with your Grandma's Red Heart.  Please don't take my wrong, I love the Red Heart afghans my dear Grandmother made for me.  But part of the fun for me is finding the pattern, finding the yarn at a great bargain and making the item.

So, my knitting basket is literally empty now.  I am going to tweek a pattern I have for a knitted scarf.  I plan to add some beads to the pattern and see how it comes out.  I will let you know.

In the meantime, I hope each of you have a wonderful week.  Keep warm, be safe and remember to stop by Handmade Monday to see some wonderful crafts.  And, please don't be shy to comment on this post.  I would love to hear from you.


P.S.  Do you like the new look of my blog?  My daughter Heidi created it for me and the picture of the Eiffel Tower was taken by Heidi during our night time walk back to our hotel!