Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day. ~Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year. Health, Wealth and Prosperity in 2011!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Recipe for Biscochos

If you don't know what a Biscocho is, please check out my previous post by clicking HERE. For those of you that know what a Biscocho is then you know that they look like these. . .

I've shared these with different people in the past and they've mentioned that they taste like a Snickerdoodle Cookie. Well they are crispy and crunchy like a Snickerdoodle Cookie...but they have one thing that Snickerdoodle Cookies don't have and that's what makes them unique.

Snickerdoodle Cookies don't have ANISE in them. Anise Seed is a graybrown oval seed from Pimpinella anisum, a plant in the parsley family. It is related to caraway, dill, cumin, and fennel. Anise Seeds smell and taste like licorice and they are native to the Middle East and have been used as a medicine and as a flavor for medicine since prehistoric times.

Ancient Romans hung Anise plants near their pillows to prevent bad dreams. They also used Anise to aid digestion and ward off epileptic attacks. I kid you not when I tell you that I put a little bowl of ground up Anise in my bathroom so that when you first walk in you get this sweet, licoricey scent. It's like an inexpensive potpourri! 

 We bought Anise in seeds this year at Cost Plus World Market. We then ground them up using my mom's magic bullet! We tried using the blender but they just sank to the bottom under the blades.  The bullet worked great, it ground them into a fairly fine powder.

Anise makes all the me. Here's the recipe. We doubled it but I think the single is more than enough. You can also roll and cut them as you would a sugar cookie with fancy Christmas Cookie cutters but we just use a pizza cutter and cut them into squares and rectangles to honor my Tia Nico who use to make them the same way. Only she had a fancy little cutter that had a curlicue end so hers were very pretty.


1 T. Anise
3 Cups Lard (we actually use Crisco shortening)
2 Cups Sugar
10 Cups Flour
1 1/2 t. Salt
2 T. Cinnamon
1 t. Cloves
3 Eggs
1/2 Cup Milk
1 T. Baking Soda***see comment below

Cream the lard or shortening with the sugar until you can barely feel the sugar. I recommend a Kitchen Aid Mixer to do all the work for you, but you can do it by hand. Add eggs and continue to cream and blend.

In separate bowl sift together the dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed lard/shortening, sugar and eggs. Knead Well.

Roll out about a softball size ball of the dough until it's about 1/2 inch thick although you can make them as thick or thin as you like. No rules...they're your biscochos! Own them!

Cut using the pizza cutter into small squares or rectangles or you can use pretty cookie cutters...again your choice.

Place on cookie sheets, you don't need to flour or grease or spray with cooking spray, just the plain old cookie sheet. Bake at 450degrees til browned, watch them carefully. My mom says to put them in the broiler after for just a second to brown the tops and there you are.

These Biscochos actually get better with age. When you first taste them while they're fresh and warm they're going to be good. But when they cool off and the taste of the Anise develops...OMGosh! Plus your house is going to smell beautiful. Good luck and let me know if you make them. I would love to hear about it.

***The last ingredient says baking should be baking powder. My mom says either one is good but we didn't have baking soda so we used powder and then today my cousin Stella emailed me telling me it's baking lets all just use baking powder shall we?***
Linking up to Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Birthday, A Recipe and Family for Biscocho Day!

This was a super busy weekend for being the last shopping weekend before Christmas. We also saw record rainfall here in Kern County. We broke the record last set in 1931!! Unbelievable! Unfortunately we aren't prepared for that much rain and right now we have a lot of flooding and fear of the Lake Isabella Dam everyone is really very concerned. We hope the rain ceases soon even though the weather reporters predict it will last through Wednesday.

On Saturday my cousin David's family threw him a surprise birthday party. He was really surprised and we all had a really great time. We cousins all grew up together and it's not often we all get together, so it was so special to be able to see each other again.

Here's a picture of Cousin David and his family. David is the one with the ball cap on. His brother Steve is to the left of David, his sister Elpedia is beside him in yellow. His mom, Casi (my mom's sister) is in the long blue trench coat, then his other sister Mary Helen. Behind Mary Helen his brother Art (the oldest) and then the baby of the family, Hector. Isn't it wonderful that all his brothers and sisters were there to help him celebrate? I love you all so much!

The next day was my own dear mom's birthday. We had already planned to make Biscochos that day. Biscochos are a small, crispy cookie that we all grew up with. Our Tia Nico, my mom's sister would spend days and days before all holiday's making these cookies. She would then store them in empty coffee cans and no one left with empty hands, each family took home a coffee can filled with these delicious cookies. These probably aren't as wonderful as hers or maybe the memories of childhood can never match the present, but these are biscochos.

That's 20 cups of flour and 4 cups of sugar and 6 cups of shortening and 6 eggs plus lots of other spices and cooking ingredients. I'll share the recipe with everyone in a separate post tomorrow.

Since it was my mom's birthday we had a full house to help with the making of the Biscochos, so I'd like to share some pictures.

My job was to cream the shortening and the sugar. Last year my poor sister Lisa and I did it by hand. I forgot I had this beautiful pink Kitchen-Aid Mixer in the closet because my generous daughter April had given it to me for Mothers Day and I had never unpacked it! This mixer is the greatest! I just stood there watching everyone else work while the mixer did it all for me.

The harder job went to my sister Lisa and her youngest son Isaac (my Godson). Their job was to sift the dry ingredients and then blend the dry and wet ingredients by hand.

Here they are sifting. Isaac refused to wear an Apron! I think next year I'm going to get him a Bobby Flay manly apron!

Here Lisa and Isaac are blending dry and wet ingredients. My brother Fred is in the background, he was admiring my Kitchen-Aid Mixer.

Here Isaac is doing what we in spanish call "Amasando" (in English kneading). With 20 pounds of flour this is very labor intensive!

Isaac did a really good job, and before you knew it, it was time to start rolling out the dough! Everyone got a chance to come and roll out some dough and cut some cookies with a giant pizza cutter. They then placed them on the cookie sheets and my sister Lisa was in charge of baking them in the oven until they were that perfect golden brown. (A few batches were that perfect golden burnt color, but several members of our family love the burned ones, go figure!)

First up...Isaac under the watchful eyes of his Nana (grandmother).

 Then he and his mom made some together. See the little rolling pin? I scoffed at it when I saw it because it was such a tiny little one while the other one in the picture is mine. It turned out that everyone preferred the little one which belongs to my sister Lisa. Kudo's to you Sis!

 I didn't want to be left out, so of course I had to come and get in on the act. Don't we look like real cooks with Aprons and everything? Mine was a gift from my sister-in-law Connie and I love it! The one my sister is wearing was sewn by my mom, many, many years ago. She gave one to each of us girls for Christmas one year. The boys I believe received hand-made bathrobes that year.

Here I am again...I'm a Biscocho making machine!

 And since it's my blog...I'll post just one more picture of me :-D  As you can tell, I was pretty happy. This was a great day!

And here's my brother Fred again, popping in to check on how things are progressing. Don't worry Fred, the first batch will be ready soon!

Next up to make a batch of biscochos? Looks like it's my other brother Jaime and his daughters. The baby, Clarissa and the oldest Sarena.

Here's Jaime showing Clarissa and Lisa his technique. Jaime and his kids actually cook together quite a bit. Last year he and Clarissa made homemade scented soaps for everyone as Christmas presents. They were heavenly!

My sister Lisa and her nieces Clarissa and Sarena. I think Sarena's already sampling the first batch...she looks happy so they must be good!

Next baby girl April had to make her batch too. Now April, that's a rolling pin...not a baton!

Ok, now she's down to business! Now she's got the hang of that rolling pin. She's a natural!

Biscocho making wasn't the only thing going on. We had lots of other activities happening. People would just float from one to the other.

We had some game playing going on in the living room, on the coffee table, under the Christmas Tree. That precious puppy Chorizo loved all the attention she was getting from everyone! I don't know who was winning this game of Sorry but here's Clarissa, April, my sister-in-law Connie (the gifter of the apron mentioned earlier) and my nephew, Clarissa's brother Gabriel.

The birthday girl, my mom also had some gifts to open! Here she is with my brother Jaime and Clarissa.

So what did you get mom? Let us see. Ohhhhh, how pretty, an Angel! Good job in picking this one out Jaime, Connie, Sarena, Gabriel and Clarissa!

There was also some visiting with Cousin David who had to come by to wish his Tia Tome (his Aunt Tome, my mom) Happy Birthday! Thanks for coming David! (His mom, pictured in the first picture on this post in the blue trench coat is my mom's sister.)

We also did a lot of picture taking so we could have the memory of this day forever! Here's my mom and her son's; my very handsome brothers, Fred and Jaime. Love you Bros!

My mom and her beautiful daughters :-D   My sister Lisa.and me!

My mom with her daughters and her sons.

My mom with some of her grandchildren. Missing were my brother Fred's children who came over later and my son who was AWOL for the day and my sister's son Sean who came over later and will be in a picture a little later in the post. Pictured from left to right, Gabriel, Isaac, April, Sarena, Clarissa and their Nana!

They insisted on taking a silly picture as well. . .they are kids after all :-D

My sister Lisa had purchased some miniature chocolate bottles filled with various liqueurs. I had one with Orange flavored Russian Vodka. Oh my gosh these are so good, but so rich you can only eat/drink one so no danger of getting drunk on these! If you compare the bottle to the little crystal twinkle light you can see how really miniature they are.

Here's Jaime and April both enjoying a chocolate liqueur. Don't worry, even though he's my baby brother and she's my baby girl, they're both way over 21!

My sister's son Sean was working but came by during his lunch hour to wish his Nana a Happy Birthday.

We ended the day by singing Happy Birthday to my mom and taking a group picture with her. We had to do this one is two shots. I'm in this one sitting in the chair.

And my sister Lisa is in this one sitting in the chair. I really need a tripod! Santa...if you're listening?

I can't imagine Christmas Day topping this day. What? Oh yeah, well yeah...true, there will be presents. But c'mon...this was the bestest day ever! Thank you all for making it so special!

Thank you Ale, Bebe, Little Fred and Adrianna for coming by later and spending time with Nana and for bringing that precious little Melissa to give her Nana a birthday hug before the day was over. I love you all so much!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

And the Winner is . . .

Thanks to all of you that entered my Giveaway for a $65.00 gift certificate from CSN Stores! I wish I could have given one to each of you. But alas...there can only be one winner and that winner would be suburban prep!

I'll be getting in touch with you via email suburban prep. Ya'll have a great.weekend and remember it's the last shopping weekend before Christmas. Are you ready?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Giveaway and Lemon Blossoms

This has been a really hectic week! I have been busy since I got home from work today baking Lemon Blossoms for my daughters employees Christmas Party tomorrow.

Lemon Blossoms are so good and lemony. They're time consuming to make only because you bake them in miniature muffin pans so they're practically bite-size. But other than that they are easy-peasy to make.

And they're fun. I've never been much of a baker but this Christmas Season I've been doing a little more than I ever have and I'm finding it really therapuetic. It's just me, my thoughts and a lot of sugar :-D

Before I post the recipe for these delicious little nuggets of lemony goodness I want to remind everyone to go and enter my giveaway for the $65.00 gift certificate to CSN Stores. Just click HERE to get the details on how to enter.

Well, I'm off to brush my little teethies and read a little bit more of my Apolo Ohno book before I head off to dreamland. (I know...teethies is not a real word, humor me please!)

Lemon Blossoms

18 1/2-ounce package yellow cake mix (Because of what I had on hand, I used a lemon cake mix instead of a yellow one. Still very good!)
3 1/2-ounce package instant lemon pudding mix
4 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 lemon, zested
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Spray miniature muffin tins with vegetable oil cooking spray. Combine the cake mix, pudding mix, eggs and oil and blend well with an electric mixer until smooth, about 2 minutes. Pour a small amount of batter, filling each muffin tin half way. Bake for 8 minutes, or until edges are golden brown. Turn out onto a tea towel.

To make the glaze, sift the sugar into a mixing bowl. Add the lemon juice, zest, oil, and 3 tablespoons water. Mix with a spoon until smooth.

With fingers, dip the cupcakes into the glaze while they're still warm, covering as much of the cake as possible, or spoon the glaze over the warm cupcakes, turning them to completely coat. Place on wire racks with waxed paper underneath to catch any drips. Let the glaze set thoroughly, about 1 hour, before storing in containers with tight-fitting lids.

Linking up to Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum. Go check out lots of other great recipes and holiday ideas! 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Iwanna Wednesday, Toys for Tots, and a Giveaway!

Happy Iwanna Wednesday. Welcome to the day I get to want almost anything in the world. Before we get started Iwanna tell you about two things.

1. My Giveaway - Giving away a $65.00 gift certificate to CSN Stores. Ton's of great stuff at their 200+ stores so you have to go and enter. Click HERE to get the details and enter. Go on...go enter, I'll wait for ya!

Hi, welcome back...ok so next Iwanna tell you this:

2. Toys for Tot via Pier 1 Imports - Pier 1 Imports will donate $1 to Toys for Tots for every new fan on go and become a fan of Pier 1 Imports, just click HERE to get there. And I got nothing to do right now, so go and become a fan...again, I'll wait for ya!

All done? Now don't you feel good? Now you have a chance to win a $65.00 gift certificate and you helped a Tot to get a, even if you don't win you're still a winner cause you helped the Toys for Tots Program! I was checking out a few of the blogs on my blog list and I ran into one that told me about the Toys for Tots on Pier 1 Imports (I don't remember which one it was, but if it was yours but you inspired me). I went over to Pier 1 Imports and became a fan and did a quick look-see of what they had and I was amazed at how many cool things they had at such great prices.

I saw so many things I wanted that I thought I would share them with all of you. The first things I saw that I thought were cool and that made me think "Oh yeah...Iwanna one of these" were these cute little eyelash curlers.

These are Gemmed Zebra and Cheetah inspired eyelash curlers. I don't know if any of you are big lovers of makeup, especially eye makeup but I am...always have been and always will be. I curl my lashes everyday! Believe it or not...these are only $15.00 each! Iwanna the Cheetah one!

Next I found this gorgeous Brocade Business Card Holder. I don't know about you, but I can't ever find my business cards in my purse so Iwanna one of these so I can find them easily. Plus wouldn't I look ever so classy and successful pulling a business card out one of these holders? $10.00 each people! I's such a steal. They come in fuchsia, lime, purple and teal. Iwanna the fuchsia one please although I wouldn't say no to the lime one either.

And I have a confession to make, "Hi, I'm Alicia and I'm a mug addict." Truly I am. I love unique and different coffee mugs and cups. This is one of the cutest I've come across in a long time and it's only $6.00. Iwanna one of these for my morning coffee and since I can't wear heels due to this darn Sciatica, then at least I can have them on my coffee cup right? Love the Polka Dots at the bottom and the shape of the handle.

And speaking of pretty cups how about these assorted color French Cups? Can you believe these are just $6.00 each? I love the pretty pastel colors. Drinking from these cups you would almost think you're having a delicious latte from one of your favorite coffee houses! Seriously...Iwanna these! I may have to make a trip to Pier 1 Imports on the way home from work tomorrow.

So see...Christmas doesn't have to be expensive. I would love any one of these items. So do you have all your shopping done? I haven't bought even one present yet. Hmmm, I better get on that don't you think? Happy Iwanna Wednesday and may all your Iwanna wishes come true!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Giveaway! Come one, come all!

CSN Stores has offered me the chance to host another giveaway and give one of my readers a gift certificate for $65.00!!! read that right, $65.00.

You could take that sweet little gift certificate and apply it towards this gorgeous tv stand! I love the country french look of this one, don't you?

This is the perfect opportunity to pick up a last minute gift for someone special. CSN Stores has over 200+ stores to shop in. So how do you get in on all the giving?

1. Leave me a comment that you are a follower or just became a follower. You must be a follower to be eligible.

That's it. Does anything in life get easier than that? I think not! So ok, don't stand around here just looking at me, go leave a comment. Entries close at 8:00 pm (PST), Friday, December 17th and I'll announce the winner on Saturday morning. I'll also notify the winner by email so be sure to leave your email if it isn't automatically generated in your comment.