Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Miscellany-Home and Food

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A simple approach for holiday decorations appealed to me this year. Using things that weren't necessarily holiday, but already in my everyday stash was my goal.


Simple little touches of pretties on the mantle.
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The full picture. Only the ribbon, star and gold fruit ornaments (from the Dollar Store) were from my Christmas box. I just added that to thing already out and really have enjoyed the results.

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Last year I posted the recipe for Heavenly Cranberry Bliss Bars and it just begged to be posted again. This for me is the quintessential Christmas cookie/bar. It is like all of the tastes that Christmas would be if Christmas was a taste in one little triangle. The word "bliss" truly captures this recipe

Photo provided by:ohdearbarb's photostream Starbucks cranberry bliss bars

I found this recipe on a message board probably about seven years ago. The lady lived in Seattle and had found it in a Seattle Jr. League Cookbook years before. I can't remember what year the cookbook was from, but I think it was from the 70's. What I do know is that Starbucks sells something almost identical and they are headquartered in Seattle. Who knows, it might be where they found the recipe. They are a little labor intensive as there are several steps. My ADD almost caused me to never try the recipe, but it just looked so good, so I'm glad it won me over. Please give them a try! You will not be sorry!

Heavenly Cranberry Bliss Bars
1 ½ cups packed light brown sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 ¾ cups white chocolate chips
1 ½ cups dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
1 cup toasted chopped pecans
¼ cup grated orange zest (see note below)

White Chocolate Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
½ cup unsalted butter
3 Tablespoons grated orange zest, divided
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
6 ounces high quality white chocolate, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350̊F. Lightly butter an 11- by 15-inch jelly roll pan or rimmed baking sheet. Whisk together the brown sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla in a large bowl until smooth. Whisk in the flour, baking powder, and salt until well blended, then stir in the white chocolate chips, cranberries, pecans, and orange zest. Spread the mixture evenly in the prepared pan (it will be quite stiff) and bake until golden brown, about 20 to 22 minutes. Set aside on a wire rack to cool.

For the frosting, cream together the cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, 1 tablespoon of the orange zest, and vanilla with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth and fluffy. Spread the mixture over the cooled base. Stir together the remaining 2 tablespoons orange zest with the dried cranberries in a small bowl and sprinkle the mixture over the frosting. Melt the white chocolate in a small heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring until smooth. Drizzle the white chocolate over the bars and let sit until the chocolate is set. Cut the bars into 3-inch squares and then diagonally into triangles.

Makes 48 bars.

The amount of orange zest is *not* a misprint. I use a microplane (this may be one of the most amazing kitchen tools ever)to do the zesting. The grating goes so quickly with this tool. When zesting citrus, get only the outer part of the citrus. Once you get to the white part underneath go to another spot. The white part is very bitter.

As Jacques Pepin would say--Happy Cooking!


Darlene said...

Your decorations are gorgeous and your pictures of them BEAUTIFUL!!!! Looks very elegant to me.

Those cranberry bliss bars are making me gain weight just looking at them....YUMMY!!!! Hope you have a GREAT weekend.♥

Empty Nest Full Life said...

The cranberry bars sound wonderful! I am definitely wanting to try some new things, and will have to give them a try. Love your idea with the Christmas decorations. I have gone in the same direction, and won't be so much too clean up after. Off to add a cute bow to the top of my folded book. Have a wonderful weekend! Jackie

Victoria said...

Wow, love what you did with your mantel! Just beautiful.

Have you made me any of these bars yet???? You better be making some for Christmas Eve! ;) I LOVE them.

M.L. @ The House of Whimsy said...

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!! I especially love the first framed picture.
Victoria, I'm sorry I didn't see your question sooner about the glittered church. You'll be so pleased to hear that I got it from Target this year was only $19.99. It comes in tiny size too, for $9.99. I've noticed in every Target that their glitter houses are kind of hidden on a shelf WAY in the back of their Christmas decorations area. Good luck. : )
Mary Lou

Anonymous said...

Beautiful photos of your festive decorations. Those cranberry bars look so good too, must give those a try.

M.L. @ The House of Whimsy said...

Just dropping back by to let you know that we were at Target tonight and noticed that the glitter houses were 30% off. : )
Merry Christmas,
Mary Lou

Britt said...

I love that crown print! I have never seen one that had anything I'd really like to display in my house but I would love one like that for Christmas time.