Oh my goodness, Christmas is here!

Oh how the month has flown. Christmas is upon us and I finally sat down to chronicle my food adventures.

Cookies for Santa

Do-It-Yourself Vanilla

I saw directions for homemade vanilla extract all over Pintrest.com this season for DIY gifts. But it was the post from, the host of The Splendid Table, that made the most sense to me. In my opinion, Lynne Rossetto Kasper is the voice of reason out there in the blogging and media world of food and cooking. Follow the web connection of The Splendid Table- Vanilla Extract to see the recipe and directions.

Vanilla Beans

vodka and bottles

split the vanilla beans

fermenting vanilla beans

24th Annual Hoyt Street Cookie Exchange

2013 Cookie Exchange group picture

quilted cookie plate

“Quilted” Sugar Cookies (aren’t they darling?)

Chocolate Pistachio Sables'

Chocolate-Pistachio Sablés from Bon Appétit  magazine December 2013

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Chocolate Almond Shortbread

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Sesame Street Cookies

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I don’t know what the name of these cookies but they were really tasty.

Patty’s Points:

1. The homemake vanilla extract takes at least 4 weeks to ferment. I started making mine before Thanksgiving. I have yet to try it out to see how it tastes. I gave it to true bakers who really were excited to receive it as gifts.

2. Vanilla beans and vodka are best to buy in bulk to keep the cost down. Costco was my main stop. I made 10 bottles of extract = 40 beans and 2 large (1500 ml) bottles of American vodka=$15.00 each. Each bean averaged about $1.20 which is a good deal. Think of it like a sourdough bread starter; you can replenish the vodka, add more beans and even use the beans for another recipe.

3. The cookie exchange was fabulous. Many people said the cookies were the best efforts in years. Of course, the talk of the party were Pat’s sugar cookies with the edible quilt square pattern atop. She ordered them online. I’ll have to corner her to find out where she got them.

4. I made Chocolate-Pistachio Sablés- from Bon Appétit  and Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Bars. I had a theme of cookies with sea salt.

The Chocolate-Pistchio Sablés were great for a working person as myself. I made them a month ago and prepped them for the freezer. I thawed, sliced and baked them a day before the party. The sea salt is placed atop each cookie before baking. Next time I’ll make the rolled dough a little thicker for a bigger diameter cookie.

 I saw several Salted Caramel Bar cookie recipes online and quickly deduced how easy they were. Make your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe and place half of the dough in a lightly buttered 8 x 11 baking pan. Melt 6 oz of caramel squares with 1-3 TBSP of milk or cream or purchase a 6 oz jar of caramel sauce. Melt the squares in the microwave 30 seconds at a time, stirring until smooth. Place the slightly cooled caramel atop the cookie dough and sprinkle with sea salt. Place the other half of the cookie dough atop the caramel and smooth with an oiled spatula. Sprinkle the top of the dough again with sea salt. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 40-45 minutes, turning the pan halfway through for even baking. Let the dough rest because it will be very soft with the dough and caramel. Cut into two inch squares.

Happy Christmas and New Year to all my readers and fellow bloggers. Enjoy your time with family, friends, neighbors and colleagues.

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10 thoughts on “Oh my goodness, Christmas is here!

  1. Silly me, I never knew you used vodka to make vanilla extract – I learned something new today 🙂 I agree, those quilted sugar cookies are adorable! We received a tin of cookies from a neighbor- they looked so perfect I thought she bought them, but it turns out she made them all herself. I was impressed.

    I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, Patty! Best wishes for a happy new year!

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  2. I made a large bottle (wine bottle size!) of vanilla for myself nearly three years ago and have truly enjoyed it. The only difference is I used French brandy instead of vodka and left it for six weeks. Thanks for the reminder that I need to replace it!
    I hope Christmas was lovely for you, Patty. Happy New Year! Thanks so much for stopping by to say hello.

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  3. What do you think of using the French Brandy instead of vodka?
    I had a lovely Christmas and thank you for the nice New Year Wishes Happy New Year to you as well!
    Patty

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  4. Hoped you enjoyed your holiday celebrations! Happy New Year to you and your family! What a wonderful cookie exchange!

    I’ve started making my own vanilla extract about 2 years ago..and I wondered why I waited so long to do that! It’s a lovely christmas gift, especially for foodies! Very lovely bottles you’ve got there.

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  5. Happy New Year to you Jo!
    Thanks for being such a faithful “commenter” this past year.

    I am so excited to try my homemade vanilla extract. Do you use vodka as the infuser also?

    I got the bottles at Cost Plus World Market $2.99 made in Italy Nice eh?

    x

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  6. Oh yes. I usually use vodka fortune vanilla extracts. It’s neutral flavored and also cost efficient!

    Oh those bottles are quite the steal! Would love to get my hands on some!

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