December 19, 2011

Holiday Tamale Party

When I saw tamales, the real deal and not the generic Mexican restaurant version, for sale at Christmastime in Birmingham thanks to HICA (The Hispanic Interest Organization of Alabama), I thought one thing: tamale party.

Thanks to my friend Brianne, a tamale dinner party we had!

And thanks to gathering two Cooking Light editors, one Cooking with Paul Deen Magazine test kitchen professional, and two former Southern Living/ editors, our spread was quite festively colorful and delicious. We might not all work together anymore, but fortunately, some of our original Southern Progress potluck crew can still reunite, over a meal of course.

Tamales, Citrus and Jicama Salad, Cranberry Christmas Salsa
Tortilla Chips
(Traditional) Salsa
Pork Tamales, Poblano Pepper Tamales (from HICA)
Citrus and Jicama Salad
Mexican Chocolate Cream Pie (from Cooking Light)

Merry Christmas Eating Season!

December 13, 2011

Christmas Gifts: Chocolate-y Brownies and Buttery Cookies

I baked for Christmas.

I baked buttery, nutty Wedding Cookies and my favorite fudge-like brownies from scratch, two recipes each, meaning ridiculous amounts of butter and sugar.

I baked for the wonderful people who put up with my crazy editing habits every single day, that means at work and in everyday life for those poor people who know me well enough.
I put my baked goods in the freezer.

I bought tins, treat boxes and mini cupcake liners from Hobby Lobby.

Then I put it all together all pretty-like each day that I saw a person I felt needed a sugary "Merry Christmas," Madoline-style.

Oh, and I also stuffed mini Oreos in chocolate chip cookies to gift and cookie-exchange, but they weren't quite as ridiculously good as the ones I stuffed with full-sized Oreos.

What are you making to give this season?

December 6, 2011

Cakes and Carols

According to magazine covers, it's the season to bake a festive layer cake, even if you are not typically the kind to devote so many hours to the art. So, because I am a strange person who enjoys laboring over such a cake more than once a year, I bring you my favorites this holiday season.

Christmas music not the cheesy stuff on the radio but the kind with rich theology of how much awe we should be in awe of Christ's birth is speaking particular wonderful words and emotions to me this year. I blame the number of times I have listened to Sojourn's Advent Songs and my church's new album (check it out!). So I've interlaced parts of my favorite carols with my cakes. Believe it or not, I do believe in more than just sugar to celebrate the season.

Let's get our priorities straight: chocolate first.
Statement maker: that purdy oreo cream

So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,
Come peasant, king to own Him;
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.

And chocolate second:
Statement maker: The drizzle of peanut butter-chocolate ganache on top 

Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born…

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

Choco-latte third:
Statement maker: Oh, that buttercream
(Yes, I realize I just blogged about this cake, but it is just that worthy of emphasizing.)

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

On to the second best thing after chocolate: Caramel!

Statement maker: Caramel icing from scratch+caramel filling

Adeste Fideles
Laeti triumphantes
Venite, venite in Bethlehem
Natum videte
Regem angelorum
Venite adoremus, Venite adoremus,
Venite adoremus, Dominum*

All Hail! Lord, we greet Thee,
Born this happy morning,
O Jesus! for evermore be Thy name adored.
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord. 

*I love the beauty of the Latin. This is the first verse of "O Come All Ye Faithful"; it's fairly easy to see the connection to English here even if you don't know the dead language of Caesar and old church music.

Caramel again, with a twist:
Statement maker: Can't-stop-talking-about-it icing with a nutty filling

"Fear not then," said the Angel,
"Let nothing you affright,
This day is born a Saviour
Of a pure Virgin bright,
To free all those who trust in Him
From Satan's power and might."
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

And an obligatory seasonal-type spice kind of cake, but only because it's a family recipe and the maple-flavored icing really is quite phenomenal:
Statement maker: maple flavoring in the cream cheese icing

Carol Sidenote:
As I am typing this, my roommate is introducing me to Andrew Peterson's Behold the Lamb of God, a concept album that tells the whole story of Christ's coming. It might become a new favorite.

Last year's round up of sweet treats for the holidays:
6 Cookies for Christmas

What carols and sweet treats are you celebrating with this season?