Don't you love the holidays? Even now, as this festive season is being put away for next year I think about how we can be practical roughly 360 days a year. And on the remaining days, we can celebrate with abandon. As proud as I am of my children, I am even more pleased for these breaks when we can just be freinds and enjoy each other's company.
There is nothing that does me more good than to see my oldest son, Trevor, and his wife, Leslie, look so happy and relaxed on Christmas Eve. Every year, as many as can make it gather at my mother-in-law's for dinner gather. She coordinates the "pot luck" so that the feast is traditional and the joy of all that cooking is shared.
This year my contribution would be cookies and candies. Christmas is not about practicality. It is about loving abandon. Personal favorites had to be remembered: Chocolate Chip Cookies for Kenny. Snickerdoodles for Trevor. English Toffee for my husband.Something rich, something spicy, a bar cookie and some gluten free treats for my mother-in-law to indulge in. Orange Cinnamon Cookies and Peanut Brittle. Holiday Bars for sheer opulent indulgence.
Nineteen hours in the kitchen and my feet doubted my sanity. But then I see my niece's face light up as she helps me pile the plates on the counter high with sweets.I don't feel my feet anymore. I only feel my heart, and it is happy.
On Christmas Day, we were invited to join my son's in-laws for Christmas Dinner. Steve and Lisa are not just perfect in-laws. They are perfect hosts. The feast continued with prime rib, ham and lute fiske. The second half of my bake-a-thon was set on the table. Lisa asked for the recipe for the bar cookies. Here it is.
Holiday Brandied Bars
1-1/2 Cup Golden or Ruby Raisins
1 Cup Dried Cranberries
1 Cup Dried Apricots, chopped
1 Cup Brandy
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine is Saucepan. Stir over medium heat until boiling. Turn the flame off. Let mixture stand for half an hour to absorb the brandy.
2 ¼ Cups Flour
3/4 Cups Brown Sugar
3/4 Cups Butter
Mix together flour and brown sugar. With a pastry blender, cut in the butter until texture resembles loose grain. Lightly pat in to a 10”x 15” x 2” cake pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for 30 minutes or until this crust golden brown.
1 Cup Chopped Pecans
Drain off any excess moisture from fruit mixture by using a slotted spoon to spread the brandied fruit over the crust. Sprinkle the nuts evenly on top.
1 Tablespoon Vanilla
Beat with electric mixer on low for about 4 minutes.
1 Cup Flour
2 Cups Brown Sugar
Stir together flour and brown sugar. Blend in with egg-vanilla mixture. Spoon evenly over filling.
Bake for about 1 hour more, or until toothpick in center comes out clean.
Powdered Sugar- Generously sift over the top. Cut in to bars. Allow to cool.