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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: 09/12/12

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

DOUBLE PUMPKIN KISSED CHOCOLATE CHUNK COOKIES!

   This recipe comes from www.lovefromtheoven.com .   Oh my!   Chocolate and pumpkin!   It could be the next best of both worlds after chocolate and peanut butter! (I'm just saying!)



                      

Double Pumpkin Kissed Chocolate Chunk Cookies





I know, another Pumpkin recipe!! I can’t stop baking with pumpkin right now and I must say that I am loving every minute of it. The way the house smells is enough to motivate me to bake all the time :) Cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger are probably my favorite beautiful smells coming from the oven, yum!
Here is a fun, simple cookie with lots of spunk. I am such a sucker every time I pass those Holiday kisses, my hands uncontrollably pick them up and put them in my cart. So to use up my favorite holiday kisses, I created this fun and oh so tasty cookie that you are going to love.
Take a peek and happy Fall baking!







Here’s your line-up. Don’t mind that I forgot the 2 eggs for the photo shoot. Was having a blonde moment!




Cream your butter and sugars, add you eggs, vanilla and pumpkin then toss in the dry ingredients :)
I just liked this picture :) I need a wall of just my kitchen aid shots!



You know these bad boys. Unwrap 35 or so :)


Love these!



Quarter each little kiss.



Toss in your tasty chocolate chunks….



Along with those kisses!
Break out your muffin top pan, scoop in your dough, press down and bake! (you can also use a normal baking sheet and make tradition cookies with a cookie scoop with this recipe, both delish)
Ingredients
2 sticks softened butter
1 Cup granulated sugar
3/4 Cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla
1 Cup pumpkin, from can
3 1/4 Cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
12 oz bag chocolate chunk pieces (or chocolate chips work fine too)
35 or so unwrapped Pumpkin Spice Kisses, quartered
Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In stand mixer, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla until well combined then add pumpkin.
2. Place flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg into large bowl; mix to combine then slowly add to wet ingredients then chocolate and kisses. Mix only until just combined.
3. If using muffin top pan, scoop 1/4 Cup dough into each muffin top cup that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Press to spread to edges. Bake 10-12 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack. If using baking sheet, scoop medium cookie scoop of dough onto a silpat or parchment lined baking sheet, about an inch apart. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until edges just begin to brown. Let cool on pan for 5 minutes before removing.
Makes
24 large muffin top size cookies
4 dozen regular size cookies

LADY BATHORY "COUNTESS OF BLOOD"!






    Lady Bathory, "Countess of Blood", the first female vampire, may have been the bloodiest of all. She married into nobility and was the distant cousin of the vampire that started it all in modern time, Vlad Dracula, "Vlad the Impaler". She lived a life of leisure and peace in her Hungarian castle home.
    That is until, so they say, a servant girl spilled a drop of her own blood upon her while bathing and grooming her. The countess noticed how the young servants blood made her skin seem rejuvenated and fell in love with its hypnotic effect.
    Soon the countess was luring more and more local females to her mountain perch to be sacrificed to her. When the local flesh started drying up, the countess started a so-called "finishing school" for daughters of nobility and continued her reign of terror until she was caught in the early 1600's.
    She devised many ways to make this harvest of blood more painful and efficient, she did this by including tools that pulled chunks of flesh from victims that were hoisted high above her bath. She did this all with the help of her four loyal servants.
Though there is some confusion on why she killed the girls, it was rumored that they were all killed so that the countess could bathe in their blood. It was said that the town's people hated her so much that she seldom left the confines of the castle.
    When brought to trial most of her co-conspirators were found guilty and sentenced to death but Elizabeth because of her nobility was allowed to escape the executioner. She died a couple of years later. It is rumored that she was allowed to live out her life in the castle with no sunlight or mirrors and it was boarded up with only a small slot where food was placed once a day.
    Tales of the pealing of flesh from live victims and the feasts of blood have added much to folklore, movies and dime novels for centuries, how much if it is true is hard to say.
    Much of this tale is shrouded in folklore and fact, so details are hard to uncover, it is best just to say that the lady was truly depraved.

ROSH HASHANAH, THE JEWISH NEW YEAR!!






    The story of the origin of the Rosh Hashana remains incomplete unless we know the history of the Hebrews. We come to know about the early Hebrews mainly from their own writings in the Old Testament, stories from the Bible, and excavations over the past century.
    The Hebrews were descended from wandering tribes of Semites in the Near East. They were not at first one people, although their languages were very similar, and they did not all arrive in what was to become their land at the same time. The first tribe had been living in Mesopotamia at the end of the 3rd millennium B.C.
    Then at around 1900 B.C. their lifestyle changed as they were led by Abraham, an experienced farmer, to move westwards in search of new land to settle down and start a strife-free living. It is believed that Abraham, a great devotee of Hashem, the lord of God, was even ready to sacrifice his own son when asked to do so. But later Hashem, who was testing his devotion, prevented him. Finally a ram was sacrificed in the place of his son.









    After much wandering, the Hebrews under Abraham, settled near Hebron in lower Canaan. Before long other Semitic tribes joined them, or set up separate communities nearby. There these Semites, later called the Hebrews, continued their life.
   But with the rough and dry climate Palestine proved to be unfit for living to the descendants of Abraham and his tribesmen. Some of the more enterprising Hebrews left the country and sought a new and more secure living in the fertile Nile Delta. The pharaohs there accepted them for their abilities and special skills.
    Then in about 1750 B.C. Egypt was invaded by the Hyksos. These Semitic warriors were kinsmen of the Hebrews. Hebrews enjoyed some prosperity under the Hyksos.
But when Pharoah Ahmose I, finally expelled the Hyksos from Egypt, the Hebrews had to pay the price of their kinship. They were enslaved and had to spend their lives working on the enormous monuments and tombs that the pharaohs had erected for themselves. This bondage lasted some three hundred or more years.









    In about 1250 B.C. a new religious leader, named Moses, emerged among the Hebrews in Egypt. This great man, of high intelligence and strong moral principles, determined to win a better life for his people. He organised a resistance campaign against their Egyptian masters. Concerned by this the Pharaoh, Rameses II, allowed Mosses to lead his people out of the country altogether. This movement back towards Canaan is called the Exodus. It was an event of vital significance in Hebrew history.   Because it gave them the feeling of national unity for the first time.
    Moses turned to the formulation of laws and the establishment of religious principles. The Biblical story of the laws of Moses is a simple one. The great leader presented the Ten Commandments dictated to him by God to the people in the Sinai desert. Over the centuries the Hebrews had developed and after Moses they continued to develop - a whole moral and practical code of living which they called the Torah.
    The basis of this is found in the first five books of the Old Testament (i.e. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy). The Torah has similarities with the Code of Hamurabi, from which some of it is derived. What Moses did was to organize the compilation of these laws and principles as he found them and provide a background for his successors to improve upon.









    As a result, for the next few centuries at all events, few Hebrew leaders of war or government were not also religious leaders. Many of them were prophets, as well, whose careers and sayings are preserved in the books of the Old Testament.
Moses, however, died before the Hebrews actually reached Canaan. When they did get there they split up into tribal communities, each retaining a sort of independence under the accepted laws. But it was not long before the Hebrew settlers ran into trouble with the other peoples who had already been living in Canaan for a long time. Among these were warlike cousins of the Phoenicians, the Philistines, who occupied a series of small towns along the coast Mount Carmel. Gradually they built up a chain of strong and beautiful cities, joined loosely by a sort of federation.
    The Philistines ragarded the Hebrews as a dangerous threat to their security and the two peoples often went to war. It was Samson who led the Hebrews to score victory against the Philistines. After Samson's death it was Saul, an able statesman, under whom the Hebrews set up their first royal dynasty. Though not a good general, he did set the stage for a workable political organization which was successfully continued by his son-in-law David.









    David was elected the King of the Hebrews in about 1010 B.C. A soldier, statesman, prophet and law-giver, he is best remembered from the Bible for his exploit in slaying the Philistine giant, Goliath, with a stone hurled from his sling. It has become an allegory for what must have been the real achievement of a defeat of the Philistines by a Hebrew army of much smaller size. He ruled for nearly 30 years and enlarged Hebrew territory. It was under him that a small town of Jerusalem was turned into the capital city of his kingdom. David was succeeded by his son Solomon after his death in 970 B.C. Solomon earned name in history for his rich and wisdom.
    After Solomon's death the political unity of the Hebrews collapsed. And the kingdom was divided into two unequal and independent parts - Israel, the larger, in the north with Samaria as the capital, and Judah, the smaller, in the South, retaining Jerusalem.
Later Israel began to decline as the old habit of tribal quarrelling continued. In 721 B.C. Sargon II, king of Assyria, invaded Israel, captured Samaria, and deported the Israeli's leaders and most of the people to Mesopotamia, from which they did not return.
Meanwhile the smaller kingdom of Judah did not suffer the severe Assyrian domination. In 586 B.C. the Babylonian king Nebuchadnazzar II, invaded the country and captured Jerussalem. He destroyed much of Solomon's great temple and many other public buildings. after the destruction of the First Temple and the consequent exile, the glory of Israel was dashed to the ground.










    It was during the rule of Cyrus the Great of Persia who conquered Babylon in 539 B.C. the Jews regained some powers. Then they rebuilt Solomon's temple and reconstructed the decaying city of Jerusalem. Thereafter the Jews lived more or less peacefully through self governance for five hundred years. Then in 70 B.C. when the Jews visited the Roman edicts, the emperor Vespasian's son Titus took Jerusalem. Following this the Jewish people dispersed and left their land to make a living as best they could in different countries throughout the world.



Rosh History

    Strange but true. Though "Rosh Hashanah" heralds the beginning of the pious 10-day period of 'High Holy Days' it is not found in the Torah's discussion. Torah is a compilation of moral and practical code of living the Hebrews had developed over the centuries and its development continued even after Moses. The basis of the Torah is laid in the first five books of the Old Testament (i.e. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy).
    If Torah refers to Rosh Hashanah as Yom Ha-Zikkaron (the day of remembrance) or Yom Teruah (a day of Shofar blowing), it appears twice in the Torah.
    One time it is mentioned in Vayikra 23:24 - "...In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, shall you have a sabbath, a remembrance of blowing of horns ("zikhron teru'ah"), a holy gathering...".
    Again it is found in Bamidbar 29:1 - "...It is a day of blowing the horn ("yom teru'ah") to you".









    Now, the Torah gives no specific reason why the shofar is blown on Rosh Hashana. Rosh Hodesh in biblical times was celebrated in a far more festive fashion than it is today and the blowing on Rosh Hodesh is defined as "a statute for Israel, an ordinance of the God of Yaakov".
    Thus, blowing horns is not particular to Rosh Hashana, but rather is a characteristic to every Rosh Hodesh (new month) - in the form of the blowing of the trumpets. It is blown as an act of remembrance. Why then Rosh is exclusively called a festival of Shofar? It is also possible that blowing the Shofar on Rosh Hashana has special significance beyond that of every Rosh Hodesh.
    The meaning of remembrance here is special attention. Zikaron implies that special attention is paid to the object of remembrance as the attention of God is sought for Noah [Bereishit 8:1] as well as Avraham [ibid. 19:28] and Rachel [ibid. 30:22]. The Torah is teaching us that from that moment onwards special providence and close guidance ('hashgaha') was provided for those individuals.


 

Food laid out for an evening feast



   Following the period of Bnei Yisrael's servitude in Egypt, the time comes for their salvation - "And God remembered his covenant... and God knew" [Shmot 2:24-25]. From that moment, Bnei Yisrael were under Hashem's special 'hashgaha'. See the

History of Hebrews

   According to the great Jewish scholar, Rambam (Maimondies), the Shofar is blown on Rosh Hashana to say, "Wake up! Wake up, everyone who is asleep! Remember your Creator! Instead of going around doing things that are not important or worthwhile, take some time to think about what you can do to make yourself into a better person. Give up doing bad things!"
    Rav Saadia Gaon gave many reasons for blowing the Shofar, here are some:
"...Rosh Hashanah is the birthday of the world. The Shofar reminds us of Akeidas Yitzchak, (the Binding of Isaac) where Abraham sacrificed a ram in the place of his son. The shofar reminds us that Hashem will redeem the Jewish people. The shofar is the call of redemption.
    The shofar is not blown if Rosh Hashana falls on a Shabbat..."
    As a result, "all the practical individuality - of keeping Torah and mitzvot in their individual detail and conceptual individuality the beliefs concerning the individual's personal connection with eternal life and the individual striving towards it - which had formerly revealed itself and existed as the manifestation of the Divine Idea...
now, with the disappearance of the great light of the nation during the time of the Second Temple, was confined and manifest in its special individual character." Israel lost its nationhood, and now each individual stood on his own merit.
From then on, G_d did not "remember" Am Israel as a whole, but rather "remembered" each individual separately.



Taking time to worship



   And when each person is judged individually, the Day of Remembrance obviously takes on a much more profound aspect of judgement, and fear replaces joy. The individual is no longer able to hide himself among the many - he stands alone before the King of Judgment.
   

Customs and Traditions

The Feast of Trumpets Food and festivals are intertwined together. The Rosh Hashana is no exception to this.
   The rituals used as a part of this 'feast of trumpets', or the feast of shofar, is a festive feast.
    It is a Minhag (custom) during the New Year season featuring sweet foods as a symbol of our desire for a sweet year.
    According to the Talmud, the Jewish scripture, symbolic acts are performed as a good omen, and also as an expression of prayer that the New Year brings good for all.

The challahs are dipped in honey; and afterwards, on the first night, a piece of apple dipped in honey is also eaten. Honey is also a main ingredient in many holiday recipes.
After the appropriate blessing on the apple, it is added: "May it be Your will to renew for us a good and sweet year." Other customs include eating the head of a fish, pomegranates and carrots. These foods are eaten as "simanim," "good omens," of success and happiness for the coming year.






Taking in some of the festivities



Prohibitions

   It is also customary to refrain from sleep during the day of Rosh Hashana, and rather to engage in Torah study or other spiritually productive activity. If one is idle, it is as if he slept. The Talmud Yerushalmi writes, "If one sleeps at the year’s beginning, his good fortune likewise sleeps."
    And remember no nuts please on Rosh Hashanah, mainly because the gematria (numeric value) of the Hebrew word for "nut," "egoz" is the same as that for the Hebrew word for "sin," "chet.".
    Finally please keep anger at bay on Rosh Hashana. Always remember that G-d judges us in the same manner as we judge other people. If we get angry easily, so will be He.
    Whatever is done remember:
   Y'hee ratzon Hashem sheh-tichadesh alainu shana tovah oomtookah.
   "May it be your will Hashem that you renew for us a good and sweet year."

 


Prayer at the Western Wall in Jerusalem



Tashlich

   This is a popular Minhagim of Rosh Hashana. Tashlich is "casting off" of sins. It is performed after the Mincha prayers, on the afternoon of the first day of Rosh Hashana. However, if Rosh Hashana falls on a Shabbat, then Tashlich is performed on the second day. We walk to a body of flowing water, preferably one containing live fish, say a special prayer, and symbolically empty our pockets into the river, casting off our sins.
The Tashlich service is a Minhag based on the verse from Micah (7:9) "and cast into the depths of the sea all their sins".
    In fact, a great deal of time is spent in the synagogue on Yomim Nora'im, praying to Hashem that our sins be forgiven and that we be inscribed in the "Book" of Life.