Thursday, December 27, 2012

Behind The Blog: Christmas Day

Well, it has only been two days since the day that I anticipate all year long has passed.

Christmas has always held a mushy soft spot in my heart.

The Christmas trees in every front window.
The twinkle lights.
The carols.
The manger scenes.
The presents.

It's like I'm a big kid on...well...Christmas.

So instead of baking this week (I've been eating WAY too much sugar, and I'm certain you have too), I thought we could both use a break, and I could introduce my family to you.

I talk about them enough ("sister said this...," "mom did that...").
I think it's time to show them off.

So without further ado - I present "Behind The Blog: Christmas Day"
So you've seen this cat more than once.  
But the fact that the tree is still standing is an amazing feat of endurance...on the part of the tree.  Whoever manufactures this brand, I am not above endorsements -will work for rocky road fudge (we're running dangerously low). 

This is Archie.
I adopted him in March, after losing my sweet-angel of a cat last Christmas.
I intended to get another Persian.  And not only was it was going to be a girl, but she was going to live for cuddling. 

But this is what I ended up with.
A boy.  Who thinks he's a dog.  And regards cuddle-time as cruel and unusual punishment.
He's my little terror.
But he has a pure heart, and works the camera better than Ridiculously Photogenic Guy.
Here I am sans make up, reading my portion of the Christmas Story on Tuesday morning.

Next up, is me!

I'm the oldest child in my family, followed by my sister, then brother.
Yes, that is my naturally curly hair.  No that is not my natural color.

An office worker by day, and baker by night.
I also live for musicals (somebody make Wicked into a movie already!), singing (duets, please), and road trips (best. way. to. travel).
I told them I wanted a "Christmas Bakers" shot.  I did no baking at all!  It was a wonderful break.
This is Sister and Mom.

Both were responsible for that delicacy at the beginning of this post (which I will talk about later).

Sister is the president of The Grace Notes a-cappella group, when she's not paralegal-ing at the law office or watching intense crime dramas with her hubby.  We get mistaken for twins all the time, but that's alright with me.

Mom is amazing.  She's the mommiest, mom you'll ever know.  Always happy to see you and offer a comforting word, she also baked all of the traditional treats I'll introduce below.
Homemade Gingerbread Man (Brother did this).  I wasn't lying. I didn't bake a thing this past week.

This is Dad.

We're a lot alike.  Super analytical and matter of fact.  No need get worked up over something, just think it through...and through and through again. :)

For Christmas all he ever asks for is fancy baked goods.
Gingerbread, Torrone, Panforte, Panettone, Stollen, Marzipan.
He's the easiest person to buy for bar none.
This is Brother.

I adore this boy.
We can totally get into it one minute and the next second it's all sunshine and rainbows.

He's the drummer of Watchers and Hunters.  Sure it's not music to bake to, but he's still the best drummer around.
Brother-in-law and Sister "Skyping" with his family in Sweden
This is Brother-in-law.
He has been so for the past 2 1/2 years.

His parents are missionaries so he speaks many different languages, but I usually forget that because we're too busy dishing about The Walking Dead, or how great the new Spiderman movie was.

He's definitely the most energetic of our bunch, bringing much needed new dimension and "spice" to our house.  
1) My yearly calendar.  Every Christmas my mom gets me a new one to "theme" my year.  2013?  Well, it's Marilyn 
2) My brother is the king of customized gifts.  Last year it was a song announcing a free car wash and wax and this year 
     was intense looking coupons for free dinner.  Who can resist that face?
3) Oh my gosh!  This year my parents surprised us all with bikes!  I haven't had a bike that fit me since the 7th grade.
4) Brother-in-law made us all picture frames with individualized photos from his and Sister's wedding.  

All in all, it was a great Christmas.  But honestly, what would Christmas be without the baked goods?  

So even though I haven't lifted a finger in over a week, here are just some of the things we experience each holiday season over at my house...
And it begins with "Christmas Tree"

It's actually a Danish pastry, but we have no idea what it is actually called (Grandma? A little help maybe?), because of this we affectionately deemed it "Christmas Tree" long ago - named after the shape it is fashioned in. 
Words can not adequately describe this glorious masterpiece.

So flaky.   So buttery.   The perfect amount of sweet, crunch, and soft gooey inside.
Like the best cinnamon roll, donut, bear claw combo you could ever imagine.

The filling consists of finely chopped walnuts, butter, and sugar.

To help convey this a little better, let me paint you a picture.

I would rather have this than any present.  Even more than the twinkle light infested artificial redwood that I put up every Black Friday...on. the. nose.

My mom makes an entire cookie sheet's worth of this stuff every Christmas morning and every Post-Christmas day, guess what we have for breakfast?
Eggs.  Bacon.  Cereal.  Cheese.  It doesn't really matter anymore, because the Christmas Tree is gone.
If anything says something about our family, it's these - Cucidati.

150% Italian.  Labor of love.  Glorified fig newtons (family, don't shoot me!)

These were probably one of my first introductions to baking.  My grandma, mom, and all her sisters would get together shortly after Christmas and spend all day making these babies.

It wasn't until a few years ago, when it was just three of us hashing these out that I realized what a monumentous task we had at hand.

A days worth of hours and 300+ cookies later, I thought to myself, "Gosh, we're impressive, I should start a baking blog!"

Just kidding.
Filled with chopped figs, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, brandy, and sherry, each bite is packed to the brim with Christmas deja vu.

And finally, the Cannoli.

Probably the easiest of the three to replicate.

Crunchy fried shell, filled with whipped cream, ricotta cheese, chopped chocolate, and almonds.  Dipped in walnuts and dusted with powdered sugar.


I hope you had a loving and refreshing Christmas, and I wish you a blessed New Year!

See you all on the other side.


Changes for 2013. 

Coming soon:
Do not fret, for the amount of posting will remain the same.
Right here, every Thursday.

But next year, I'm going to shift my content focus a bit.

The more time I spend baking, the more I find myself needing good substitutes for things, needing to master different techniques, and frankly, needing to have more questions answered.

I learn by seeing and doing, and I haven't yet found one place where I can go to get all my questions answered in a visual format (be it video or photographs, etc).

So that's what I'm going to attempt.
There will still be baking.
And I know there will still be gaps...I'm only one person.  

But I have questions, and you deserve answers.

And if you have questions, send them over because I'm open for business.

Let's do this!


  1. I was looking for some cool christmas baking ideas i thing that this is the ultimate place, which gave me lot of ideas.

    1. Well, that's great to here! Glad I could inspire your Christmas baking this year!