Christmas Cookies

Hey friends, I'm putting a lid on the chatter, this time (well, amazing things always happen through the miracle of Christmas) to wish your inner child a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!

Gingerbread Poinsettia was made using this recipe, and the petals were cut out with the teardrop-shaped cookie cutter. And glued together with royal icing. The holly leaves and doves were cut out from a favorite sugar cookie recipe (found in the latter link above), and thinly glazed.

The doves are hanging from a dogwood branch. Puddin' the cat made this shot almost impossible. Good thing that persistent little kitty has nine lives.

May your hearts be wreathed with the spirit of the season!


A Tuscan Birthday Fare

Thumper's birthday was  weeks ago, but I had to share with you this milestone.
Although, the boy turned 12,  he's almost taller than me. And no longer shops for clothes in the boy's department. Fact is,  he's been recently spotted  wearing "man pants."

So, I was not too surprised when my suggestions for his birthday cake— a Star Wars theme, or perhaps, a Little Big Planet's Sackboy cake—were crushed.

"Mom, I don't want  cake—that's for babies. What I really want is Spaghetti and Meatballs!"

Say what?!

Have I spent all these years frolicking-in-sugar-in-order-to-someday-provide-my-kid-with-a-homemade-birthday-cake-for nothing? (comes up for air).

"Listen, Mister Man Pants, you're getting a cake, whether you like it or not!"

Being that my little guy is all grown up now, I honored his birthday wish—somewhat.  I baked him an old favorite  amongst his  peers,  Spaghetti Cake.

The cake was chocolate  (use your favorite chocolate cake recipe, or try this or this one.)
I baked it in an oval-shaped pan. The cake was  crumb-coated with a pale yellow-tinted buttercream. Then, the spaghetti strands were  piped from a #5 pastry tip.

I considered making truffles for the meatballs, but didn't think they'd  look realistic enough. Besides,  most kids  love Rice Krispies Treats, right?  So making  meatballs, using chocolate and rice cereal was a no-brainer.
Cake was garnished with fresh chocolate mint—Amore. The "tomato sauce" was   raspberry sauce.

Incidentally, in case you were wondering,  the wine  was for me—not the child.

Speaking of wine.  What would a traditional Tuscan fare be, without grapes? Which, btw, also happens to be the boy's  favorite fruit.

Well, I could've handed the boy a bunch of grapes, and called it a day.  But I wouldn't have slept through the night, unless I took the  fruit  to another level.
Concord Grape Sorbet was the answer  (Btw, leaves and tendrils were all made of Marzipan).

This frozen treat tastes like the grape juice many of us enjoyed as kids. Remember how it tasted purple?
Oh, you'll need a spoon for this one—or not—if you're a kid at heart.

I froze Concord grapes from last fall  for the occasion. Can't find Concord grapes? Make the sorbet with Concord grape juice. Can't find Concord grape juice? Use grape-flavored water. Can't find water?
...I'm way ahead of you...

Ain't I a stinker?

I'm kidding, of course. I just  think you should try this, sometime.

 Chocolate Rice Krispies Meatballs

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 ounces  unsweetened chocolate
1 package (10 oz., about 40) large marshmallows, or, 4 cups miniature  marshmallows
 6 cups Kellog's Rice Krispies cereal

In large saucepan melt butter and chocolate over low heat. Stir often.  Add marshmallows and stir until marshmallows are completely melted. Remove from heat.
Add 6 cups of the rice cereal, stirring  until well coated. Allow mixture to cool  about 10 minutes,  or until  cool enough to handle.  Roll meatballs from the chocolate mixture, using a small, greased,  ice cream scoop. Place ‘meatballs’ on  parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, and set aside until completely set.

 Concord Grape Sorbet

1½ pounds Concord grapes
¼ cup water
Simple syrup (recipe follows)
1½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
 Prepare an ice bath, set aside. Wash and stem the grapes. Combine grapes  and water in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, until the liquid begins to bubble and grapes start releasing their juices, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat, and simmer until grapes begin to break apart, about 3 minutes more.

Pass mixture through a food mill, or fine sieve into a large bowl set in the ice bath; discard solids.
Stir frequently, until completely cool. Stir in the simple syrup and the lemon juice.

Transfer mixture to an ice-cream maker, and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. Place in an airtight container, and store in freezer until ready to serve, up to 2 weeks. Serves 10.

Simple Sorbet Syrup
Simple syrup can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for at least 2 months.

2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup water
In a medium saucepan combine sugar and water. Bring to a boil, over medium-high heat. Cook until sugar completely dissolves, about 8 to10 minutes. Allow to cool, and then, refrigerate until needed. Sorbet recipe, courtesy of Martha Stewart.

Raspberry Sauce

One 10 ounce bag  frozen raspberries
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Chambord, optional

Bring raspberries, sugar, and lemon juice to a gentle boil. Simmer for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add Chambord.
Purée in a blender until smooth. Strain mixture through a fine sieve to remove seeds. Cool completely, and refrigerate until needed. This sauce also freezes well.

And there you have it:

Thumper loves pasta.
Thumper loves meatballs.
Thumper loves Italian cuisine, in general.

So, what was my mercurial son's birthday dinner?

Chinese food.