I am thankful..

This year is coming to an end.  It’s been such a difficult year, emotionally and physically.  Stupid spine for not being able to handle the impact of running!  I wanted to take a minute to touch on some things I’ve been thankful for throughout the year.  I realized how amazingly strong my family is.  I never sat down to think about how rare it is to have a family that is so incredibly supportive and loving.  Despite all the obstacles my family has had to overcome this year, we managed to get through them together.  I managed to keep my traditions and make some new leaps.  All the “firsts” without my beloved Uncle, my Grandma’s surgery and all the other things in between; I wouldn’t have been able to bear them without the strength I received from my family.  From my family and from Kyle.  I don’t know what I would do without their presence in my life.   I love them all so much.

Now that I’ve gotten all sappy and teary-eyed, I would like to share some of my holiday!

I believe I mentioned a hint of recipes in a prior post and I will not disappoint!  I made gingerbread cookies with a recipe from Simply Recipes. I followed her recipe almost exactly, but cut down on the nutmeg and added in some cayenne. I’m not a huge gingerbread fan myself, but everyone loved them!

Oh yeah. Those are ninjabread men. I made them for Kyle.

Ready to unleash on an unsuspecting Kyle!

I had high ambitions to decorate all the gingerbread I ended up making but WOW I didn’t realize how hard it is to ice cookies with a piping bag. After the six ninjabread men, I had to move on. I had other things to make! I did dip the christmas trees in white chocolate to make them a bit more festive at least!

I made some caramels. Cayenne pepper caramels. They were WAY too delicious. See, I have this problem when I make caramel: I constantly burn my tongue. I just can’t keep the spoon filled with luscious, molten, sugary goodness away from my mouth. Oh well. Its totally worth it! I followed the recipe for salted butter caramels that David Lebovitz has posted on his awesome website. He makes me want to visit France, which is never somewhere I had on my wish list of places to go. It is now! The only change I made to his recipe was to add 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper and to sprinkle some on top of the cooling caramel.

My top two favorite cookies I added to the cookie trays: white chocolate oatmeal cookies with rosemary and this fantastic recipe for kolachkys I discovered after months of searching over at Lemons and Lavender.

This recipe is amazing. I am so happy I happened upon her website! I used jarred apricot jam to save myself a little bit of effort. My dad and brother were so excited! My brother was also super excited about the homemade pumpkin butter I made for him with Angela’s awesome recipe over at Oh She Glows. I substituted orange juice for apple juice and adjusted the spices to taste. The recipe is fantastic and totally fool proof! Just be sure you have a lid or you may end up with pumpkin butter on the walls.

The white chocolate oatmeal cookies with rosemary, while it may sound strange, is a beautiful combination. I wasn’t really excited about the texture of the oatmeal cookie recipe I used, but I urge you to try adding it to your favorite oatmeal cookie recipe (after taking out the raisins.. I don’t think THAT would be such a great combo) and see what you think!

Oh. Those yummy looking pretzels in that jar? Yeah that’s addicting as all getout. Its a recipe my supervisor copied out of a Midwest Living magazine for me. Cinnamon sugar pretzels. Oh yeah. Don’t start eating them. You won’t stop. All you have to do is toss a 16 ounce bag of twist (or snap) pretzels with 2/3 cup canola oil, 1/2 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon. Bake them in a large roasting pan in a 300 degree oven for 30 minutes, stirring 2-3 times.

The poor chocolate red wine cookies didn’t get made for the cookie trays because (unfortunately) I came down with some kind of flu/cold bug on Christmas Eve. I simply had no time to fit them in. But don’t worry, Bill and April got their special cookies last night at the bar where my family went to listen to our friend DJ. More on that at another time, though.

I believe I got off on a bit of a tangent, eh?

Well on Christmas Day I felt a bit better. In honor of my Uncle Jeff’s favorite snack (blueberries) I made a fantastic old fashioned blueberry cake I found over at 101 Cookbooks. I had to sub a bunch of ingredients I didn’t have, but the cake turned out wonderfully. It went onto the brunch table at my mom’s with some delicious scrambled eggs, sausage and hash browns. We exchanged a few gifts and made our way to my Aunt’s mother’s house. Dinner was delicious and the love of the family warmed the entire house.

Me with my Aunt and the girls!

I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend the holiday.

I hope your year has been just as memorable as mine has. Enjoy the rest of it and I will see you all next year!

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2 thoughts on “I am thankful..

  1. I think that 2010 has been a year of trials and blessings for many of us. My heart goes out to you because I know how frustrating health problems can be. I’m praying that 2011 will be a year of restored strength for you! We are both blessed to have such wonderful families around us. I loved seeing a little glimpse into yours! Your cookies all look amazing! I just about laughed out loud when I saw those ninja men! Thank you for sharing with me tonight. I hope you have a wonderful Sunday.

    • I’m so glad you got a chuckle out of the ninjabread! I couldn’t stop laughing when I found the cookie cutters online.

      Thank you so much for your sweet and inspirational words. I agree that we are both so blessed. I look forward to what this year will bring!

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