Using my Christmas gifts
Because of the generosity of Santas in multiple locales, I received lots of cooking-related Christmas gifts that I'm just now getting around to trying out. I have my dad to thank for this and this, and my husband to thank for this.
My mother-in-law gave me a Silpat baking mat, which I used to make the pecan-raisin drop cookies shown in the photo. These mats have been around for a while -- they're more environmentally friendly than aerosol cooking sprays and less messy than butter. I love mine, and will surely use it for all of my future baking projects. After washing it, I store it rolled up in a cardboard paper tube from a roll of paper towels, a suggestion from Cook's Illustrated.
About the cookies: The recipe is from the January issue of Bon Appetit (available on Epicurious here) and we loved them. The ingredient list is blessedly short, which meant that I was able to put them together in about 10 minutes, not including baking time, of course. With a short ingredient list it's especially important to use good ingredients and to maximize the flavors of the ingredients you do use. I toasted the pecans for a few minutes in a pan on the stove, and I poured boiling water over the raisins to plump them up. (Especially important because I think they were in our cupboard for a long, long time.)