December 4, 2010

Merry and Bright at the Christmas Prelude!

The Maine House is headed up to Kennebunkport for The Annual Christmas Prelude. The season begins with lights, garland, horse and carriage rides and carolers strolling the sidewalks belting out "God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman" and "Hark The Hearld Angels Sing!"

Today officially marks the start of Kennebunk/Kennebunkport’s 29th Annual Christmas Prelude Celebration. It’s a truly spectacular time. Christmas Prelude began as a small way for Kennebunk and Kennebunkport businesses to thank the local population for their support through the year, and I am sure that its creators could not have fathomed what their brainchild has become! HGTV has even ranked our festival the second best in the entire nation! So for two weekends each year, the businesses of Kennebunkport Maine and its sister, Lower Village Kennebunk, continue to express their thanks with fun-filled shopping sales, refreshments, and decorations that inspire holiday cheer. But they don’t stop there – live music performances, caroling, stunning tree lightings, Santa’s arrival in different areas throughout the community, inn tours, and countless craft fairs worthy of melting even the Grinch’s heart.

After our weekend of shopping in Kennebunkport, we are so looking forward to devouring our favorite Chrismas cookies!!!

Cranberry Orange Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups chopped fresh cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Orange Icing
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
3 tablespoons orange juice
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter, white sugar and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg until well blended. Mix in 1 teaspoon orange zest and 2 tablespoons orange juice. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; stir into the orange mixture. Mix in cranberries and if using, walnuts, until evenly distributed. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Cookies should be spaced at least 2 inches apart.
Bake for 12 to 14 minutes in the preheated oven, until the edges are golden. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks.
In a small bowl, mix together 1/2 teaspoon orange zest, 3 tablespoons orange juice and confectioners' sugar until smooth. Spread over the tops of cooled cookies. Let stand until set.

Estelle's Rasberry/Apricot Thumbprints
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 large egg
3 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup rasberry and apricot jam

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. On waxed paper, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.
In large bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat sugar and butter until creamy. Add egg, milk, and vanilla; beat until well blended. Reduce speed to low; beat in flour mixture just until blended.
Drop dough by rounded measuring tablespoons, 2 inches apart, onto lightly greased large cookie sheet. Bake 6 minutes. Remove cookie sheet from oven.
Working quickly, with greased rounded measuring teaspoon or large end of melon baller, gently press a small indentation in center of each cookie, making sure not to press all the way through. Fill each indentation with rounded 1/2 teaspoon jam.
Return cookies to oven and bake 12 to 14 minutes longer or until edges are browned. Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining dough and jam.

"Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall,
 the genial flame of charity in the heart." ~Washington Irving

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