Christmas preparations have been so much fun this year! Matthew is at an age where he is finally able to get into the spirit of the season and share in the anticipation of Christmas morning. Of course, immediately following Thanksgiving Day, he was asking when we were going to get our tree and put lights up on the outside of our house since pretty much everyone else in the neighborhood already had their decor fully displayed. When I informed him that he had to wait another week for us to pick up our Christmas tree, he pretty much broke my heart when he tearfully replied: "It's ok Mommy...the trees are all gone. I understand." He actually thought we were not going to get a Christmas tree for our house.
|Matthew was so excited to finally bring our tree home!|
|Baby Emma, on the other hand, was not enthused in the least. She was just cold.|
When tree-trimming day finally arrived, he was ecstatic. We drove to a Christmas tree lot near our house, unpacked everyone from the car, and then checked the price tag on the nearest 7-foot tree. We balked at the price: $85 for a Christmas tree!?!?: We turned right back around and tucked everyone back into the car. Matthew was quite solemn as we strapped him into his seat: "I sorry Mommy. All the Christmas trees are gone. There are no more for us."
It was the saddest thing ever.
Luckily, the drive to the next, more reasonably priced Christmas tree lot did not take long. Within 10 minutes, we selected and tied down a beautiful blue spruce to the trunk of our car. Matthew could not have been happier: "Thank you, Mommy! Oh thank you for our Christmas tree!"
Sometimes he is a bit too easy to please.
It was so much fun to decorate the house and the tree with Matthew. He placed the majority of the ornaments on the tree...and for that reason we have about 90 ornaments on one lower left corner of the tree and the remaining 20 or so selectively scattered throughout the rest of the branches. We'll have to fix that after Matthew goes to bed.
Emma is really impressed with the tree. And the ornaments. Actually, she would prefer to be eating the ornaments but luckily the prickly branches are keeping her at bay for now.
The Christmas baking frenzy continues with these delicious Rolo cookies. Rolo candy, those delicious caramel-filled chocolate nuggets, are one of my favorite candies. I remember how me and my sister Catherine would search the living room couches for loose change before heading over to our dance lessons just so we could buy and share a package of rolos from the vending machine. I have a feeling ballerinas are not supposed to eat copious amounts of chocolate before practice. Maybe that was why I never made it as a prima ballerina.
Anyway, back to these cookies. A basic, fudgy chocolate cookie batter is whipped up and then wrapped around Rolos. While they bake, the chocolate center melts into the cookie batter and the caramel becomes very soft. The results is a perfectly fudgy cookie with a smooth caramel center. Delicious! I like these best fresh from the oven, but you can easily pop a cooled cookie into the microwave for a couple seconds to simulate that fresh-from-the-oven experience.
adapted slightly from Two Peas and Their Pod
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 Bag of Rolo candies, unwrapped (this is a major pain)
Sugar (for rolling the cookie dough balls in)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, sift flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa. Set aside.
With a mixer, cream butter and sugars together until smooth. Add in eggs, one at a time, beating well before adding the next. Next, add in vanilla extract. Mix until blended.
Slowly add flour mixture to sugar mixture and blend well. Take a spoonful of chocolate cookie dough and wrap around one Rolo candy. Make sure Rolo is completely covered with cookie dough. Roll dough ball in sugar and place on prepared baking sheet. Continue until you run out of cookie dough. I got a little less than 3 dozen cookies.
Bake cookies for 7-10 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit on cookie sheet for 3-5 minutes. Move to a cooling rack and cool completely.