Monday, December 28, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and abundant blessings for the New Year to come!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Let it Snow!

O.K. The snow was beautiful and I really enjoyed watching it all day Saturday and Sunday. We had plenty of food, didn't need to go anywhere, and the electricity stayed on. But now it's Tuesday and this is the only kind of snow I want to see right now. Seriously. I like snow, but I also like for my car to be able to get in and out of my driveway.

With this weather imposed hibernation of sorts, I got to thinking about "back in the day" when I made cookies a lot more than I do now. I dug out my old Creative Ideas for Living magazine from Jan/Feb 1989 where I found the wonderful recipe for the Iced Spice Cookies that I made so often when my kids were little. (Can you believe I kept a magazine so long? It's older than Richard and I saved it just for this recipe!) These have been my favorite cookies for decorating ever since the first time I made them. Firm and chewy at the same time, they taste wonderful on their own and are really good with frosting. I made a huge mess in the kitchen and loved every minute of it. These snowflakes are guaranteed not to stick to your driveway.

Iced Spice Cookies
(printable page)

recipe adapted from Patti Paige, Creative Ideas for Living Jan/Feb '89
2/3 cup shortening (I use butter)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt (I only use 1)
1 large egg (from a happy hen if you can find one-mine aren't laying right now)
3/4 cup molasses
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Cream together the first six ingredients. Add the egg and mix thoroughly. Add the molasses and mix again. Set aside.
  • Sift together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Add to molasses mixture and mix until dough forms.
  • Divide the dough into two balls (flattened), wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least three hours. (I chilled it overnight) This dough is hard to work with unless it's chilled.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Roll out one ball of dough to a thickness of 1/8 to 1/4 inch. The original recipe calls for rolling the dough out between two sheets of lightly floured wax paper or a floured pastry cloth. I didn't have those so I just checked my dough frequently to make sure it wasn't sticking to my surface.
  • Cut out desired shapes. Gather scraps into a ball and put in the freezer while you repeat with the rest of your dough.
  • Transfer cookies to parchment covered (or greased) baking sheet.
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes, making sure edges don't burn. Cool completely on a rack before frosting. (recipe below) For me this recipe made about 4 dozen small cookies.
Royal Icing
In a large bowl, mix together 1 pound of confectioners sugar, 3 tablespoons meringue powder and about 1/2 cup water. (Reserve a couple of spoonfuls of the water-wait and see if you need it. Royal frosting is kind of tricky in that it depends on the humidity as to exactly how much water you'll need.) Mix until soft peaks form. (I did mine about 8 minutes.) Use this "stiffer" frosting to outline your shapes in whatever colors you want. (I colored my frosting with gel food color and used a Wilton #3 tip to pipe the frosting around the edges.)

After the edges are set, thin the remaining frosting (a few drops of water at a time) to a pouring consistency. Use this thinner frosting to fill in your outline. You can put this thinned frosting in a freezer baggie with the corner cut off to drizzle onto the outlined cookie. Your set edges will keep the frosting where it should be. For the snowflakes, I filled in the base color first. While the frosting was still wet I piped on the snowflake design with a contrasting color. When you do this, the thinned frosting sort of "melts" together. Let your frosted cookies dry overnight.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Reindeer Bark

This stuff is "sweet"- literally as well as figuratively! I saw this treat here (on Your Home Based Mom) and felt the overwhelming need to make it myself. It's festive and full of sweet, salty, crunchy, chewy goodness. It's truly yummy, and it makes me hope that Santa has a good dental plan for his reindeer! It's basically Oreos, pretzels and Reindeer corn (who knew?) coated with melted white chocolate or candy bark. I added some chopped almonds and a few M&Ms to mine just because I had them and thought they'd go well with the other ingredients.

Reindeer Corn Cookie Bark
Very slightly adapted from Your Home Based Mom-she has very detailed instructions on her website here.

1 lb. White chocolate, candy melts, or almond bark
14 Oreos, broken into pieces-I used the holiday ones with red filling
1 and 1/2 cups pretzels, broken
1 cup reindeer corn (red and green candy corn)
1 cup coarsely chopped almonds
1/2 cup holiday M&Ms
red and green sprinkles

Cover a cookie sheet with waxed paper or foil. Spread the broken cookies, broken pretzels, almonds, and about 3/4 of the candy corn onto the prepared cookie sheet. Melt white chocolate until smooth- follow the directions for melting on the package.
Drizzle the melted chocolate over the pretzel/cookie mixture, spreading with a spatula if needed. Before the chocolate sets, sprinkle on the rest of the candy corn, the M&Ms and red and green sprinkles. Place tray in the refrigerator until set, and break into pieces. Store in an airtight container and enjoy!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

Whenever I bring goodies to work, I always feel bad because some of my co-workers are on a gluten free diet, and very few of my recipes fit that category. So...since I knew I was bringing a little something to work tomorrow that was not gluten free (more on that later) I thought I would do a little research and find a suitable recipe for a gluten free alternative to bring as well. After searching a while and being discouraged because most of the recipes contained specialty items I didn't have in my pantry, I came across this recipe on gfe-gluten free easily.

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

I adapted the recipe just a bit, without compromising the gluten free ingredients. I couldn't believe that there was no flour or flour substitute... these cookies are amazing! Just don't bake them too long. You'll want to take them out before they're too brown if you like your cookies chewy. If you like them crunchy, leave them in a little longer.

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies
adapted from gfe
1 (18 oz.) jar Jif Peanut Butter, Extra Crunchy (about 2 cups)
2 cups lightly packed brown sugar
2 eggs from happy hens
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla (gluten free-I used Sonoma Syrup Vanilla Crush)
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Mix together all ingredients. (How easy is that?)
  • With lightly greased fingers (I used olive oil) roll dough into walnut sized balls and place on parchment covered baking sheet. Do not flatten the dough balls!!
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes, until lightly brown. They should look "set" but not done. After removing the cookies from the oven, let them stay about 5 minutes on the baking sheet to finish cooking before removing to a rack to cool.
  • Yield: 3-4 dozen cookies
I thought these would be really good rolled in some lightly salted chopped peanuts before baking, but since my peanut can didn't say "gluten free" I didn't try this. A very light sprinkling of a good sea salt would be yummy as well!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Oreos- All Grown Up

Oreos have always been a favorite at my house. There are those who twist the two halves apart to get to the filling first. Others prefer dunking the whole cookie in a nice cold glass of milk, and some just like to eat them as they come out of the package. This recipe gives us yet another way to enjoy them. I've never made truffles before, but when I saw these on Bakerella I knew I'd have to give them a try. Three ingredients, and they look like you've been in the kitchen for hours!
Oreo Truffles

(recipe adapted from Bakerella)
1 package (16-18 oz.) Oreos (not Double Stuffed)
1 (8 oz.) block of cream cheese, softened
1 bag candy melts or pkg. of white chocolate "bark"
  • Reserve 6-8 cookies for garnish (or a snack). With a food processor or blender, process the remaining Oreos into fine crumbs.
  • Put the Oreo crumbs in a bowl with the softened cream cheese and mix together. (Elbow grease and a sturdy spoon help here.)
  • Form dough into small (1 inch) balls. Put these in the freezer while you are heating your chocolate or candy melts. (This helps them stay together when you dip them.)
  • Melt the candy melts or chocolate bark.
  • Dip each ball in melted candy and place on waxed paper to dry. Make sure you tap off the excess melted chocolate before putting them on the waxed paper to avoid a big puddle around your truffle.
  • Crush remaining Oreos to sprinkle on top for garnish if you wish. (After mine were set I drizzled some more melted chocolate over the top. That was to cover up the crumbs that got in my melted white chocolate because I didn't put my truffles in the freezer before I dipped them.)
  • Refrigerate and enjoy! (Then wonder how they'd be with a maraschino cherry or chunk of peppermint patty in the middle...)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Chicken Tenders

Chicken tenders...Chicken fingers...whatever you call them, they're definitely Richard's favorite food group. This recipe is his specialty, that he got off of the Bisquick box. If Richard's cooking dinner, you can bet it will be these. He prefers his with ketchup, but I think they're great with a honey mustard dipping sauce.

Quick and Easy Chicken Tenders
1 pound chicken tenderloins (I cut these in half)
2/3 cup Bisquick (or your own baking mix)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt or garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 egg
3 tablespoons butter (melted) or olive oil if you'd rather
  • Mix together the baking mix, cheese, salt and paprika in a shallow dish or plastic bag. If your cheese is in large pieces, you may want to give it a whir in your blender or food processor to make it more of the consistency of the stuff in the green can. It sticks to the chicken pieces better!
  • Lightly beat the egg and put it in a shallow dish.
  • Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray or a light coating of olive oil.
  • Dip chicken pieces first into egg and then in the dry mixture.
  • Place coated chicken pieces onto baking sheet.
  • Drizzle melted butter or olive oil over the chicken pieces.
  • Bake @ 450 degrees for 12-14 minutes, turning pieces over after about 6 minutes.

Sweet, Tart, and Seriously Good

Cranberries. Sweet, tart and seriously good. I always think of Johnny when I make anything with cranberries...he's the only one of my boys that likes them. (At the tender age of two he even convinced his babysitter to make him a peanut butter and cranberry sauce sandwich.)

I love cranberries too, but I'd much rather have them in cookies! These cookies have the perfect balance of sweet from the white chocolate and tart from the cranberries. Throw in some oatmeal (for those of us who like to delude ourselves into thinking that the sheer presence of oatmeal makes anything healthy) and you have a perfect afternoon pick-me-up. These are great with a cup of tea or a cold glass of milk!

Cranberry Oatmeal White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs from happy hens
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 (6 oz.) package sweetened dried cranberries
2/3 cup white chocolate chips or chunks (or take a walk on the wild side and use semi-sweet)
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  • Add eggs and vanilla: mix well.
  • Combine oats, flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl.
  • Add flour mixture to butter mixture in several additions, mixing well after each addition.
  • Stir in cranberries and chips.
  • Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto parchment covered (or greased) cookie sheets.
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Makes about 3 dozen.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

My Sister's Pepper Jelly

Aren't these pretty? They look like Christmas ornaments. My sister likes her pepper jelly with just a hint of jalapeno, so this is perfect if you like yours on the milder side. It's great on crackers with cream cheese, or just by itself. My sister and my mom made these and shared them (and the recipe) with me.

Judy's Pepper Jelly
(printable recipe)
2/3 cup chopped sweet peppers (green or red)

1 small jalapeno pepper

2 3/4 cups apple cider vinegar

5 1/2 cups sugar
1 pouch Certo liquid pectin
food coloring if desired
1 tsp. butter or margarine

  • Put first four ingredients into a large kettle. Bring to a rolling boil and boil for 10 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Remove from heat and strain through cheesecloth to remove solids. Add 1 pouch Certo liquid pectin, food coloring (red or green...about 9 drops) and 1 teaspoon butter.
  • Return to kettle and boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  • Pour into sterilized jars and process 5 minutes in a boiling water bath.
Makes 5 (half-pint) jars

Friday, November 13, 2009


Filberts... Hazelnuts... They're the ones that always go begging in the nut bowl when all of the other mixed nuts have disappeared. (The almonds always go first.) For some reason, I've never been terribly fond of hazelnuts in their unaltered form. Nutella, though, is another story entirely. It's a creamy, nutty, chocolatey treat that gives a great hazelnut flavor to these cookies.

Nutella Pecan Cookies
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup Nutella hazelnut spread
2 large eggs from happy hens
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans or filberts, coarsely chopped (I used pecans)
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Melt butter in small saucepan over med. heat. Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate until melted.
  • Place sugar in large mixing bowl. Add butter-chocolate mixture and beat until well combined.
  • Sift together flour, baking soda and salt
  • Beat Nutella, eggs and vanilla into sugar mixture until well combined.
  • Reduce mixer speed to low and beat in flour mixture until just combined. Stir in pecans.
  • Roll tablespoons of dough into balls and place onto parchment covered cookie sheets.
  • Bake 12-14 minutes or until set and slightly crisp. The longer cooking time gets you crispy cookies. If you want chewy ones, take them out earlier...even when they don't look quite done.
  • Cool slightly before transferring to wire racks to cool completely. Makes 3 dozen cookies.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Chocolate Cappuccino Cookies

These cookies made my whole house smell like chocolate, coffee, cinnamon and vanilla. What more could a girl want? I only made a half batch, but I'm wishing I had made more. Want a closer look?

Don't you want a glass of milk right now? I know you do. Go ahead and make these puppies. You won't regret it!

Chocolate Cappuccino Cookies 
(adapted from a Hershey's recipe found in Southern Living, September 2001)

(printable recipe)
2 cups butter or margarine, softened
4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar (I used dark, because that's what I had)
4 large eggs from happy hens
2 teaspoons vanilla (just because I love vanilla)
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup Hershey's Cocoa (I mixed regular and dark, mostly regular)
1/4 cup instant coffee granules (I used instant Espresso)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

1 (10 oz.) package Hershey's Cinnamon Chips

  • Beat butter at medium speed until creamy. Gradually add brown sugar, beating well. Add eggs, vanilla and instant coffee granules, beating until blended.
  • Combine flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Gradually add to the butter mixture, beating at low speed just until blended. Stir in cinnamon chips.
  • Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls, 2 inches apart, onto parchment covered baking sheets.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Cool on baking sheets 5 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool completely. Yield: 8 dozen

Who Would Do Such a Thing?

See this disturbing Jack-o-Lantern?
Can you guess who carved this spooky scary face?

This horrible nightmare inducing face with the eerie lopsided eyes?
Try and guess.
Give up?
Scroll down.


A little more...

Here it is again in case you've forgotten what it looks like.

Did you guess?

The culprits: Looking innocent, as usual...

Aren't they talented? I think if they had had more time, they might have added the mouth.

I wonder what would happen if I gave them a typewriter?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Say Cheese!

Sunday was Homecoming at church. We traditionally have a covered dish lunch following the service, but I always have trouble deciding what to bring. When I saw this recipe in an old Southern Living magazine (that I just happened to pick up at the thrift store on Saturday) I knew I had to make it. I love to play with food. (Ask my sister if you don't believe me.)

Pumpkin Cheese Ball

(adapted from a recipe in the October 2002 issue of Southern Living magazine)
1 lb. shredded cheddar cheese
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese
1 (8 oz.) tub chive-and-onion cream cheese

2 teaspoons paprika

one half teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1 broccoli stalk

2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

2 tblsp. mayonnaise -I used Baconnaise (Thanks, Rita!) to add a little smoky flavor
  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl until blended. Cover and chill until mixture is firm enough to be shaped.
  • Shape mixture into a ball to resemble a pumpkin. (I wrapped it in plastic wrap to make the initial shape.) Smooth entire outer surface with a non-serrated knife. Make vertical grooves using fingertips.
  • Cut broccoli stem and press into top of cheese ball.
  • Serve with crackers or apple slices.
This made a huge cheese ball. I think that if I make this again, I will half it and just use the tub of chive and onion cream cheese. I might also experiment with adding more paprika...I thought my pumpkin was a little pale!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Too Much Time on My Hands?

Skellingtons! These were so much fun to make. I'd post the recipe, but it was a new one I was just trying out and I really wasn't that impressed with it.

I thought they looked better than they tasted, although they weren't bad. (They couldn't have been so bad...they're already gone.) It could have been that they were chocolate, and I kept expecting gingerbread. (I'm thinking now that gingerbread is really the only appropriate flavor for cookie men of any kind.)

If I make them again, I'll probably use this recipe which is an old standby from a Good Housekeeping cookbook. The frosting was a packet of ready made Betty Crocker Cookie Frosting right out of the tube.

Gingerbread Men (or Skeletons)
2 and 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg from a happy hen
1 and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
Cream together butter and sugar. Add molasses and egg. Sift dry ingredients together and add to the mixture. Shape into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm enough to handle. Roll on lightly floured surface, 1/4 inch thick. Cut with your favorite "man shaped" cookie cutter. Place 1/2 inch apart on parchment covered baking sheet. (I love parchment.) Bake 8 minutes at 350 degrees.

Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are my favorite chocolate chip cookies right now. They're chock full of nuts and chocolate, and always turn out soft and chewy. I'm just not all about crispy chocolate chip cookies, although I know that there are many who would argue with me on that point! Unlike other recipes I've made, these seem to do well whether you bake them right after you mix the dough, or wait 'til the next day. If you get tired of baking them (the recipe makes lots) you can always freeze the dough balls and have chocolate chip cookies ready to bake at the drop of a hat!

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
3 sticks of butter
2 1/2 cups brown sugar (I use a mixture of light and dark)
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 eggs from happy hens
1 can sweetened condensed milk (regular or fat free)
4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
24 oz. chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups walnuts (I like to mix in a few black walnuts if I have them...they give the cookies a really good flavor.)

Cream together butter, sugar, and vanilla. Add eggs and condensed milk. Combine dry ingredients and mix into batter. (I usually sift them together.) Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.
I use a cookie scoop and drop generous walnut sized balls onto parchment covered baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 13-15 minutes or until light brown. Cool on rack. Makes about 7 dozen cookies.

Chicken Soup!

After two days of cold rain, I needed some comfort food...this chicken soup did the trick. I like my soup with a little zing, so I added lots of pepper. Spicy? Yep! Just enough to chase away the chill!

Chicken Soup with Leeks
3 cups chopped chicken breast
2 carrots, scrubbed and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 med. onion, chopped
1 parsnip, scrubbed and diced (optional)
1-2 leeks, chopped (discard the tops)
3 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 sprigs parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 qt. chicken broth or stock
2 cups dry egg noodles (more or less to taste)
Salt, pepper (I used black, cayenne, and white), and garam masala
  • In large soup pot, heat oil over med. heat. Add onion, carrots, celery, parsnip and leeks. Stir well, cover, reduce heat and cook until vegetables are somewhat tender, stirring occasionally, about 10-15 minutes.
  • While the vegetables cook, cook chicken in a little olive oil. I added a few shakes of garam masala and a sprinkle of Kosher salt to the chicken as it cooked.
  • Add chicken, garlic, parsley, thyme, bay leaf and stock to the vegetable mixture. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, until vegetables are tender.
  • You may adjust the amount of liquid by adding another cup or two of hot water or stock as desired.
  • Add egg noodles about 20-30minutes before serving, and simmer until cooked but not mushy. (Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't.)
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove bay leaf before serving.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Can a Snap be Chewy?

I've had these lovely little Crystallized Ginger Bits in my cupboard for a while but just recently discovered how delightful they are. As I was pilfering another handful of them from the tin, the recipe for these cookies just jumped out at me and begged me to make it. You should's good even without the ginger bits! They were spicy with ginger and just chewy enough to go perfectly with a cup of tea.

Chewy Ginger Snaps

recipe from I've noted where I adapted the recipe


3/4 cup butter, softened (I used 2/3 cup of light olive oil instead)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup dark molasses (I used 1/3 cup)
1 egg
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3.5 ounces crystallized ginger, chopped coarsely

Instructions: Preheat oven to 375°F. Combine softened butter or oil, sugar, molasses and egg. Beat well. Stir in crystallized ginger. Sift dry ingredients together. Add to wet mixture. Mix well. Form 1 inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar. Place on greased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake 8-10 minutes. Makes 3 dozen cookies.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Summer Wind Down...

Everybody has their favorite place for vegetables.

This one's the best. My brother grows the ones here.
I took these photos several weeks ago, before the fall vegetables
started to come in.

Tomatoes, eggplant, squash and peppers...

Heirloom and cherry tomatoes...banana peppers...watermelons...
They're all good.

Now things are looking more like fall. Apples, pumpkins, gourds, and more.
If I can ever figure out how to get the pictures off of my cell phone, I'll show you!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Gotta Start Sometime

Scrambled Hen Fruit is no longer naked...Now I'm hoping it won't be so hard to add to it! This photo is for Johnny Cake, since he is my very first follower. What do you suppose Mr. Chubbikins is thinking?
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