Friday, December 28, 2012

2012 Cookie & Cocoa Party!

Merry Christmas season to everyone!
I haven't been on The Cozy Little Kitchen in the past couple of weeks due to lots busy activity of the season (not to mention Christmas itself!), but I'm going to back up to the 15th of December and tell you about the party we hosted! 
(I have most of these recipes linked on the names, in case you want to try any for yourself!)
 We had our annual Cookies & Cocoa Party that we enjoy throwing for all Mr. Cozy's med student friends, now colleagues!  It's a night that I take nearly a week to prepare the house for and make about a dozen sweet treats and hot drinks.  Friends come and go or stay as long as they want to graze on the goodies and catch up on conversation! 
The Christmas music wafts throughout the house, and decoration are brimming, and the house smells like a bakery after days of baking candy, cookies and cupcakes! 
 The house is a flour and sugar filled mess until the morning of the party when I deep clean and try to erase any evidence of the hard work involved.  It's an art, really! ;)
Of course, this is the first year to host it in our own new house! The one that seems to have a Christmas spirit about it anyways with the red living room and fireplace in the dining room. I couldn't wait!!
I decided to angle the dining table to give it more of a grand appearance for the cookies on display.  I do this, and arrange the entire table--dishes, table cloth, candles--sans cookies a couple of days before the party.  I like to do as much ahead of time as possible so that day is not stressful.
In my gingerbread kitchen I had some Hot Spiced Wassail on the stove top for a cozy holiday drink!  It's full of juices and spices that simmer into a perfectly festive drink for any winter party!  In the glass mugs, I had a garnish of an orange slice and a couple of cranberries to enhance the flavors of the drink.  I think the wassail might have been even more popular that the cocoa itself!
I don't have a picture, but also in the kitchen I had some cinnamon-hazelnut coffee brewed for those who wanted something a little stronger to stand up to the sweets. 
 The creamy hot cocoa was simmering in the crock pot on the antique hunt board.  I put out jars of marshmallows, candy canes, and candy cane kisses next to the mugs for some delicious add-ins!  I love chocolate and peppermint together, so I thought naturally that would be a fun thing to have along side the cocoa! 
Johnson Bros. Christmas mugs are gathered in a basket, and they're my favorite Christmas dishes!  I used the matching dessert plates for the cookies.
  Unfortunately, I don't have an exact recipe for this delicious cocoa, because I almost always eyeball the ingredients and taste along the way.  I like to assemble it over the stove and get it really hot, then transfer it to a crock pot. Here are the delish ingredients it's comprised of so you can make some yourself!

Cocoa powder, Milk, Half & Half, Sugar, Vanilla Extract, pinch of Instant Coffee, pinch of Cinnamon.

This makes a creamy, frothy, rich cup of hot cocoa!!!
 We had a feast of goodies this year!  I made them all from scratch, and it was time consuming but fun!!!
The 2012 Cookie & Cocoa menu included:
Fresh Coconut Cupcakes with Fluffy Coconut Frosting
Christmas Tree Raspberry Linzer Cookies
Mr. Cozy and I LOVE these!  I think they are so beautiful, too! 
 A new addition of our favorite Derby Pie,  and they turned out so cute!  These little pies are truly a taste of Kentucky!  So many who came to the party are from out of state (or the country), and so we wanted to have some local and Southern favorites.
They were so easy to make.  Using a biscuit cutter, we made rounds of 2 refrigerated pie crusts and put them into regular muffin tins.  With the derby pie recipe filling, we filled the crust almost full and baked at 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes.  They popped out of the pan easily and were delicious!  The recipe made 2 dozen mini pies.
 Family classic Candy Cane Bark and Chocolate dipped Marshmallows,
Homemade Gingerbread Cookies
They're just the sweetest little things!
 Decadent Dark Chocolate Truffles and Hazelnut Truffles
These round little balls are a chocolate lover's DREAM!  I took some of them home for Christmas, and my family went crazy over them!  Best eaten with cold milk.
 Mr. Cozy arranged the cookies so elegantly on the stand.  Thanks for all your help, Honey!
 Fun Chocolate Dipped, M&M Pretzels Sticks
Double Chocolate-Peppermint Pretzel Sticks
Chocolate-Butter Pecan Pretzel Sticks
Deluxe Peanut Butter Cookies
 with chocolate chips, mini M&Ms and cinnamon chips! 
A new favorite!
 These pictures were taken from my iPhone.  I'm pretty impressed with the camera on the 5.  The after dark pictures actually turn out better on it than with our camera.
Twinkling candles lit to welcome in guests on that cold, rainy night.
 The night was a joyful one!  I made some new "silver" friends and was happy to see some "gold" ones that we've known for some time!  :)
Here I am (on the left) with my good friend, Melanie.  Her husband went to med school with mine.  They've been precious friends in this "journey"!
God has blessed us with a house and me with more time, so I think the least I can do is invite family and friends come over for parties like these, or just some fresh muffins and coffee!   Christmas is an especially good time to share yourself, your home, and the Lord with others. 
We did have some left over cookies, and I sent everyone home with a cute to-go box for them to fill up with treats to eat on over the following days.  With most of the remaining goodies, Mr. Cozy and I boxed up and surprised our Pastor's family and neighbors with the next day!  What's better than receiving some home made goodies to say, I'm thinking about you this Christmas!?
Thanks for reading through this looong post of mine!  I appreciate every one of my blog readers and think of you as friends!  I hope you know that if you were close by, you would also be on my Cookies & Cocoa party list!
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Monday, December 17, 2012


My heart continues to break for the families who lost a loved one in the horrible school tragedy last Friday.  It's something I've thought about so much over the weekend. 
There's not much I can say except my husband and I have been praying for these people who are suffering so deeply.  I pray for the Lord's love and grace to been showered on their lives.  He wants us to come to Him when we hurt, for He is runs to us.  
God loves these families so very much
( "God is Love." 1 John 4:8 ) 
It's actually a comfort, to me personally, in knowing that those innocent children are in Heaven,  for they will never have to experience any pain ever again.
There's not much more to say.
Remembering the "real Christmas" today, the birth of Jesus. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Salty Toffee Cracker Candy

I'm a little busy Christmas bee around the house this week as we prepare for our annual Cookies & Cocoa Party! 
I've been doing relentless list making, grocery shopping, cleaning, organizing, decorating, furniture rearranging, baking and more baking this week, but it's been a joy!!! 
I'm here at home in my element with the Christmas music resounding throughout  house.
I have a play list with an mix of favorites from the croons of Micheal Buble, Bing, and Perry Como to the modern classics by Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Steven Curtis Chapman, and Mariah Carey.  These tunes are chock full of festive memories to me!!!
I just want to point out to you a few of the Christmas touches I have around the living room... 
 This sweet Advent calender in the picture above is one of my favorite things!   It was given to us by my parents a few years ago for Christmas.  It has the picturesque look of a house in Rothenburg Germany, and just a peek through the "windows" makes you feel as though you're seeing into a fairytale. 
I know one day our children will come to love it, too!
I'm thrilled to use this heirloom quilt as our tree skirt!  It's special to us because Mr. Cozy's late Great-Grandmother made it many years ago!  It's these homespun things that bring a sense of love of family into our home during the holiday season!
I had to take a few minutes to share with you this recipe for addicting toffee cracker candy!!!  Mom has made this during Christmas, and I literally couldn't stop eating the was a problem! ;)
This is the easiest candy you'll ever make, and it only requires 4 ingredients!  F-o-u-r!  Friends, you're only a few minutes away from making one of the best holiday treats you've had!  A quick and easy "toffee" is poured over plain saltine crackers and sprinkled with coarsely chopped pecans to get cozy for just a few minutes in the oven.  When taken out, it becomes this slightly salty and sweet, crunchy, flaky, break apart candy that's you can munch on all season long! 
 Salty Toffee Cracker Candy
4 oz. Saltine crackers, about 1 sleeve
1 c. (2 sticks) Butter
1 c. Brown Sugar
3/4 c. Pecans, coarsely chopped
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Line a parchment paper covered cookie sheet with the crackers.
In a medium saucepan, combine the butter and brown sugar.  Bring to a boil and boil for 3 minutes.  Immediately pour over crackers and spread out evenly. (This mixture thickens fast!) Evenly sprinkle pecans all over.
Bake for 5-6 minutes.  Let sit for 5 minutes. Remove the parchment paper with crackers to help cool faster.  (You will be tempted to eat right away!)  Cool and break into squares.  Store in an airtight container or even better, give away as a Christmas blessing!
I actually used an additional 1/2 sleeve for the toffee mixture and 1 c. pecans.  It's so good, be prepared to make a double batch!
Back to kitchen "work" I go!...
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