Cheryl’s Cuisine: December 2020

By Cheryl Radkiewicz

Well, as I’m sitting here watching Covid numbers rise, it seems we’ll be celebrating a very different family Christmas!

My husband and I celebrated Thanksgiving, just the two of us…my family members all stayed in their own homes.  Not really a “holiday.”  It seems Christmas will be the same, or very similar.

Friends of mine who ordered large turkeys donated them rather than cook a 20 pounder for two people.  So, when we’re planning our meals for the holiday…we need to plan for less.  

Actually, right now I’m only planning on baking homemade cookies from old family recipes.  Cookies freeze beautifully and can be packed for gift-giving.  Maybe we need to return to “old fashioned” holidays, where we bake homemade recipes and hand them out in lieu of outrageously expensive gifts. 

Since many of us (including me) didn’t shop this year (thank you, Covid), homemade cookies and breads will be a different gift, made with love.

So for this month’s column, I’d like to share my family’s special holiday baked treats.  Enjoy!

Mother’s Butter Cookies:

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
2 eggs, well beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt

With rotary beaters, blend butter and sugar together.  Add eggs, which have been well-beaten.  Sift in flour and salt.  Add vanilla and mix until smooth and light.  Drop by teaspoons onto buttered baking sheets.  Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 10 minutes.  Cookies will be just set.  Cool on rack.  May be frozen when cool or put in cake tins with waxed papers between layers.  Worth every calorie!!!!!

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Holiday Macaroons:

2-7 oz. bags flaked coconut
1-14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk (Eagle Brand)
2 tsp.  vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp. almond extract
Candied fruit or nuts for garnish  ( I use maraschino cherries)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In large bowl, combine coconut, sweetened condensed milk and extracts; mix well. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto generously buttered baking sheets; garnish, if desired.  Bake 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned.  IMMEDIATELY remove from baking sheets. (Macaroons will stick if allowed to cool on baking sheets).  Store in loosely covered container.  Makes about 4 dozen.

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Mrs. Z’s Cookies:

1/2 cup shortening (I use butter)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup evaporated milk, undiluted
1 tsp. baking soda
2 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 cup coconut
1 cup chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugars together.  Add flour, salt and baking soda.  Then add eggs, evaporated milk and continue beating.  Fold in walnuts, chocolate chips and coconut.  Chill for 1 hour.  Drop from spoon onto greased baking sheet.  Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 15 minutes.  Makes 5 dozen.

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Pixies:

1/2 stick butter, melted
4 pkgs. pre-melted baking chocolate (Nestle’s Choco Bake)
1/2 cup cocoa

Melt butter first in saucepan, add pre-melted baking chocolate and cocoa.  Melt together.  Place mixture in mixing bowl and blend in the following:

2 cups sugar
4 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition

Sift:

2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

Add these dry ingredients to chocolate mixture and mix well.  Put in refrigerator overnight or at least 6-8 hours.  

Pour powdered sugar on waxed paper.  Put palms of hands in the sugar.  Shape about a teaspoon of cookie mixture into a ball and roll in powdered sugar until all white.   Place balls on ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake 12-15minutes at 300 degrees.  NOTE:  Make sure dough is cold or powdered sugar will melt into it.

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Macadamia Nut Bread:

1-20 oz. can crushed pineapple, well drained
1-9 oz. jar macadamia nuts, chopped (2 1/4 cups)
1 cup packaged sweetened flaked coconut
3/4 cup flour (sifted before measuring)
1/2 tsp. salt (reduce to 1/4 tsp. if nuts are salted)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

Grease 3- 5″x3″ loaf pans and line bottoms with waxed paper.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees.   Mix pineapple, nuts and coconut in large bowl.  Sift flour, salt and baking powder over nut mixture.  Add sugar and mix gently until nuts and fruits are well coated.  Beat eggs in small bowl; when foamy, stir in vanilla.  Pour over nut mixture and stir until well mixed.  Spoon into prepared pans and bake 60-70 minutes.  Remove from oven and turn out loaves on wire racks to cool.  When fully cooled, wrap in plastic wrap or foil and, if possible, keep 4 days before slicing.  Store in refrigerator or freezer.  Cut into thin slices to serve. Makes 3 small loaves.

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Mom’s Holiday Quick Bread:

1/2 cup shortening (I use butter)
2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup chopped nuts ( I use either walnuts or pecans)
1/2 cup Maraschino cherries, cut either in halves or quartered

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease loaf pan. Combine all ingredients except nuts and cherries.  Stir, then beat on high for 2 minutes.  Fold in nuts and cherries.  Bake for 30-35 minutes or 40-45 minutes, depending on size of your pan.  When done, let cool on rack.  

Glaze:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. cherry juice

Combine sugar and cherry juice until all pink.  Glaze loaf when cool.

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From our house to yours:  Merry Christmas and Happy 2021!!! We’ve earned it!

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