11/30/07

Cream Puff Dessert

When I was growing up my Mom didn't do a lot of cooking or baking outside of perhaps 20 dishes that we regularly had. Her baking included a boxed cake mix sometimes, or once in a while brownies. She tried her hand at cookies but she cooked with lard a lot of the time and when she didn't, it was a high water based margarine and of course the cookies didn't turn out or had a bad flavor so we children would not eat them. One of my favorite desserts were cream puffs but she said she couldn't make them and they never turned out, so we never got them. There was one person I knew could make them and that was my Aunt D. We only saw her a few times a year as she lived quite a ways away, and when we did visit she didn't always have cream puffs made, so I think I got cream puffs about once every year or two. Maybe that is part of the reason I love them so much now?

This dessert is a quick and easier way of making what basically is a cream puff. You spread it in the pan instead of making individual puffs. I personally love it without the chocolate or caramel or nuts... I just want the yummy vanilla pudding and whipped cream, but most people love chocolate so I'll leave that part up to you!




Cream Puff Dessert

1 c water
1/2 c butter (not margarine)
1 c flour
4 eggs


1 package (8oz) cream cheese, softened
3-1/2 c cold milk
2 packages (3.9oz each) instant French Vanilla pudding


1 carton (8oz) Cool Whip
1/4 c hot fudge sauce
1/4 c caramel ice cream syrup
1/3 c chopped nuts

In a saucepan over medium heat, bring water and butter to a boil. Add flour all at once and stir until smooth ball forms. Remove from the heat/ let stand for 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Spread into a greased 13x9x2 inch baking dish. Bake at 400 for 30-35 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack.

In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, milk and pudding mix until smooth. Spread over puff; refrigerate for 20 minutes. Spread with whipped topping; refrigerate until serving.

Drizzle with chocolate and caramel toppings; sprinkle with nuts.
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11/29/07

Homemade Christmas Ornaments

Almost ten (10) years ago when the children were quite small we made salt dough ornaments and painted them with the children's water paints.

Over the years they've gotten separated in many different bags and boxes, some have gotten broken, others perhaps have been lost. When we decorate the tree these years we have so many ornaments that we have to pick and choose which go up and I've already made plans next year to do two tree's, as the kids have an ornament for each year of their lives. Consolidated, that makes for 40 ornaments just from us, not to mention the numerous ornaments they made or got from preschool and school over the years!

Never the less I smiled when I saw this little guy on our tree this year. One of the children found him and chose to put him up. I'm happy to see him in such wonderful shape after all these years of being tossed and tumbled.

Homemade Ornaments with a typical Salt Dough

2 c all purpose flour
1 c morton salt
1 c water
food color - optional

Combine flour and salt in large bowl. Mix well. Form a ball by adding water slowly. Add color if preferred and knead 7-10 minutes.

Roll out about 1/4 inch thick. Cut shapes with a cookie cutter. Make a hole in the top to hang. Bake on a foil covered sheet 325 degree's for 30 minutes. Allow to cool. Paint and you can varnish or shellac if you would like them to last longer or be shiny. As you can tell from my photograph we used water colors with no finish and it's still perfect 10 years later.




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Wilton Snowflake 7-Piece Cookie Cutter Set
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Crayola; Acrylic Paint; Art Tools; 6 2-Ounce Bottles; Assorted Bright, Bold Colors
Wilton Holiday 18 pc Metal Cookie Cutter Set, 2308-1132
Wilton Holiday Grippy Cookie Cutters, Set of 4


    

 







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11/28/07

Chocolate Guinness Cake

My husband has been a big fan of Guinness beer for years. As a matter of fact we have 2 custom framed Guinness prints in our Living Room and we named our two cats Guinness and Sam Adams! When I found this cake a couple years ago I knew it was just the thing for my husband. The alcohol cooks out so obviously you can serve it without asking for id.


Chocolate Guinness Cake

2 c Guinness beer
2 c unsalted butter
1 1 /2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
4 c flour
4 c sugar
1 T baking soda
1 1/2 t salt
4 eggs
1 1/3 c sour cream

Icing
2 cups whipping cream
1 lb semisweet chocolate chopped


Grease 3-8" round cake pans and line with parchment paper and grease or spray it as well. Bring 2 cups Guinness and 2 cups butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Using mixer, beat eggs, sour cream. Add beer mixture to egg mixture and beat to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Divide batter equally among prepared pans. Bake until tester comes out clean about 35 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then remove to cool completely.

Bring cream to simmer. Remove from heat and add chopped chocolate and whisk until smooth. Chill until icing is spreadable (about 2 hours) be sure to stir frequently.

Place 1 layer on plate. Spread 2/3 cup over, top with 2nd layer and 2/3 cup icing. Top with the last layer and spread remaining icing over top and sides.
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Grandma's Cranberry Salad

My Great Grandma and my Grandma H. both love jello salads. My FIL seems to as well. I can't say I share this affinity. I like jello but only if it's sugar free and naked. LOL. I don't like whipped cream anywhere near it either! But I know my readers are looking for this recipe and I'm always happy to help out someone searching for it. For all you jello and pineapple lovers, this one is for you.


Grandma's Cranberry Salad

2 small pkgs. cherry jello
2 c hot water
1-10 pkg frozen strawberries, thawed, reserve the juice
1-13 1/2 ounce can crushed pineapple, drained, reserve the juice
2 cans whole cranberry sauce
Mini-marshmallows

Dissolve jello in hot water. Add juices from fruit and enough water for 1 cup. Chill about an hour until it starts to set. Add fruit and marshmallows. Refrigerate again until it's completely set.
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11/27/07

Cranberry Cake with Hot Butter Sauce

Starting with Thanksgiving I get to enjoy a winter of one of my favorite fruits; cranberries! I love cranberry cakes, bars, muffins, scones and desserts not to mention cranberry juice and drinks! Oh, and cranberry crisp. Mmmm. Just the thought of all these gorgeous desserts with deep red jeweled cranberries make me smile.

I have leftover whole cranberries that I made into a sauce for Thanksgiving (and then uh, forgot to serve...) so I'm going to substitute them in this cake this week. Mmmm I can already smell it. Enjoy!

Cranberry Cake with Hot butter Sauce


2 T butter
1 c sugar
1 t vanilla
2 c flour
3 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 c milk
2 c fresh cranberries


Cream butter and sugar. Beat in vanilla. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture, alternately with milk. Fold in cranberries. Pour into greased, floured 13x9 pan. Bake at 350 degrees about 35 minutes.


Hot Butter Sauce for Cranberry Cake

1/2 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
Evaporated milk - approximately 6 oz.

Melt butter in sauce pan, blend in sugar. Stir in evaporated milk. Simmer about 5 minutes stirring constantly. Serve over cake.
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11/24/07

Lost the Insert to the box of Harry & David Dark Chocolates?

Have no fear! I've taken a photo of ours for you. So... get your box out, line it up with the photo and see what your dark chocolate mix is.



(Click on the photo to make it bigger)
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11/23/07

A ReCap of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving 2007 has come... and gone. I made the gravy and the stuffing from here on my blog but this year I shared my gravy recipe with a friend who has never made gravy before. I'm waiting to hear how it went, but with a gravy you can make ahead of time like that, how can you miss!?

This year I made a list of all the foods and stuck it up on the cupboard. Why? Because in the past I've been know to forget something. Oh, not forget to make it, just forget to put it on the table. I'm thinking back over the years, especially when the three children were younger and I remember two separate instances where the cheesy corn was forgotten in the oven or the microwave. One year I forgot to bake the rolls and they sat waiting in the refrigerator. One year our Double Layer Pumpkin Pie was in the refrigerator while his buddies were being served for dessert.

This year?

Ah, you knew there had to be something forgotten this year in order to bring this topic up, right? Riiight. Well, this year I didn't think I forgot anything. I had wrote a list of the foods, right down to the sparkling grape juice for the kids and I posted the list on the cupboard where I checked it just before sitting down.

Turkey
Gravy
Stuffing
Mashed Potatoes
Green Bean Casserole
Cheesy Corn
Rolls...

... the list went on to include all drinks and desserts as well. Yep. Everything. Check.

We ate.
We cleaned up.
We were putting extra food away.

We found the Cranberries.

Gah! Forgot the cranberries!

But there is a reason. For this year I wasn't going to make them. My husband and myself are the only ones that like them and only in small amounts. But just before I was ready to start making our meal a friend gave me his recipe (online) to try which included white Zinfindel wine and brown sugar and cinnamon... I had a package of cranberries in the freezer so I tried the recipe and then promptly forgot it in the refrigerator.

But... I believe there is a reason for everything. Even forgotten cranberries. I now plan to implement them in some sort of Cranberry Spice Cake or a Cranberry bar. So in the end it works out for both of us. A new recipe will be born!
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11/21/07

Pumpkin Gingersnap Cheesecake

I got this recipe free from a store where I regularly shop. I wanted to make it this year for Thanksgiving but we already have 3 pies being made and unless we have 12 more people show up unannounced at our door we are going to have far too much dessert leftover! I'm tucking it away on my site until next year. And perhaps I'll host a dinner for 30 people so I can make the 5 pies, 2 cheesecakes and 1 pan of pumpkin bars that I would *love* to make but it's just too much food for under 10 people! I hope perhaps one of my readers gets to make this one this year. Let me know how it turns out!


Pumpkin Gingersnap Cheesecake


Crust
1 c gingersnap crumbs
1/3 c Pecans, finely chopped
1/4 c sugar
1/4 c butter, melted

Filling
3 (8-oz) pkgs cream cheese, softened
1 c light brown sugar
1 1/2 c canned solid pack pumpkin
1/2 c heavy cream
1/3 c Maple Syrup
1 T vanilla Extract
3/4 t Cinnamon
1/2 t Allspice
4 eggs


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly mist 9-in. springform pan with cooking spray.

Combine gingersnaps, pecans, sugar and melted butter. Press into bottom of springform pan and 2" up sides to form crust. Place in oven and bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.

With electric mixer, beat cream cheese and brown sugar until fluffy. Stir in pumpkin. Mix in cream, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon and allspice. Beat in eggs one at a time until smooth.

Pour batter over prepared crust. Bake for 90 minutes or until center is set. Remove and cool. Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours before serving. Serve at room temperature.

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Pumpkin Bars

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving! And this morning as I sit here and sip my coffee, gearing up for a busy day of baking pies and desserts, making my gravy (did you check out my recipe for make ahead gravy?) and doing the chopping and dicing for the stuffing, I realize that I intended to post a lot of Thanksgiving recipes here for you over the past few days but the unexpected death of my dear Grandmother and the travel for her funeral has set me back.

I am going to hurry and post a few recipes here so if you see about five recipes posted in a row this morning you'll know why!

Enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday! God's Blessings to you and your families during this harvest season.

Pumpkin Bars

1 (16 oz) golden pound cake mix
2 eggs, divided
2 T butter, melted
3/4 c chopped nuts, divided
3 t pumpkin pie spice, divided
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
2 egg whites
1 (16 oz) can pumpkin
1/2 t salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray or line a 15 x 10-inch jellyroll pan; set aside. In large bowl, combine cake mix, 1 egg, butter, 1/2 cup nuts and 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice until crumbly. Press onto bottom of prepared pan; set aside.

In large mixer bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually beat in sweetened condensed milk, then remaining egg and egg whites, pumpkin, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice and salt; mix well. Pour over crust; sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup nuts on top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until set. Cool.

Chill; cut into bars. Store in refrigerator.
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11/17/07

Thanksgiving Cupcakes - Mini Thanksgiving Dinners!

It's that time of year again! Time to make my famous Mini Thanksgiving Dinner Cupcakes! These are a huge hit and everyone that see's them loves them. I've been making these every Thanksgiving since 2002 and they are a tradition in family now.

We've brought these to large family get-togethers and the neices and newphews went crazy over them. We've also brought them to my kids school Thanksgiving parties and of course they are always a hit with kids and teachers alike.

I hope to make mine tomorrow, will you be making yours as well?





Needed:

Brach's Maple Nut Candies
White frosting
Yellow gel food color (in a little tube)
non-perils - red or green (for tiny red cranberries and green peas)
I couldn't find them in individual colors so I bought the long shapes and called them 'green beans'
chocolate chips or butterscotch chips for 'gravy'
a package of cookies - I choose the ones with the 'pretty edge' to look like a plate
yellow frosting or other for the 'plate'


Bake and cool your favorite cupcake recipe. Place frosting on the cupcake and top each with a cookie while the frosting is soft to 'adhere' the cookie-plate to the cupcake.

Slice the maple nut candies thin and layer them as 'turkey'. Dab some white frosting next to it for 'mashed potatoes' followed with a little dab of yellow gel food color as 'butter'. Melt your butterscotch or chocolate chips and thin with a little vegetable oil. Drizzle over the 'turkey' as gravy. Finish it off with the 'cranberries' (red colored sugar or non-perils) and little green 'peas' or 'beans'.
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Sugar Cookie Time!

Every family seems to have their own favorite sugar cookie recipe. We do too - we have a couple of them actually. This morning I found this one from King Arthur and wanted to share because King Arthur has such wonderful cooking and baking products. If you haven't checked out their site or their catalog, be prepared! Get a pen and paper ready because you'll be making a wish list. Check out their site for more great holiday recipes.



This sugar cookie is from their latest newsletter. You'll find these "decorator's dream" cookies–and many more!–in The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion.

1 cup (2 sticks, 8 ounces) unsalted butter*
2 cups (8 ounces) confectioners' sugar or glazing sugar
2 tablespoons (1 3/8 ounces) light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia or 1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten with 2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon baker's ammonia
3 1/2 cups (14 7/8 ounces)King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

*Reduce the salt to 1/2 teaspoon if you use salted butter.

In a medium mixing bowl, cream together the butter, confectioners' sugar, and corn syrup until light and fluffy. Beat in the flavoring and salt. Add the baker's ammonia to the egg and water, and stir to dissolve. Add this mixture, along with the flour, to the ingredients in the bowl, and beat until smooth. (When you first add the egg, the dough will look coagulated; but don't worry, the flour will smooth everything out.)

Divide the dough in three pieces, wrap them in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour, or overnight.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator. If it's been chilling for 1 hour, give it about 20 to 25 minutes to warm up a bit. If it's been refrigerated overnight, let it rest at room temperature, covered, for about an hour and 15 minutes. Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Roll the dough 1/8-inch thick on a lightly floured work surface (a silicone rolling mat works well here). Cut out shapes, and transfer to ungreased or parchment-lined cookie sheets. This dough is very forgiving, and re-rolls nicely; so gather the scraps as many times as it takes to use them all, and keep rolling and cutting. If desired, whisk 1 egg white with 1 tablespoon water, paint the cookies with this egg wash, and sprinkle with colored sugar.

Bake the cookies just until they're slightly brown on the edges, or until they feel firm, about 8 to 10 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for several minutes, or until they're set. Transfer them to a rack to cool completely. Cookies may be frosted after baking, if desired. Yield: about 6 dozen 2 1/2-inch cookies.

The King Arthur Flour Company, Inc.
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11/15/07

Lemon Chicken

One of my family's favorite style of food is Chinese. What is funny about that is that everyone has different 'favorite' dishes so when I make it I usually make two different entree's along with the fried rice, egg rolls and everyone's favorite (we all agree on this one) cream cheese wontons!

Here is one that we like and one of us deems her 'favorite' version.

Lemon Chicken

2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 t sesame oil
2 T cornstarch
salt and pepper
2 T white wine vinegar
2 T lemon juice
1/3 c sugar
1/8 t lemon extract

Slice the chicken into very thin strips. Combine the chicken in a bowl with the egg, sesame oil (I know it's a small amount but it's necessary and don't add more!), 1 tablespoon of the cornstarch, salt and pepper (about a teaspoon of salt and 3/4 t pepper) and toss the chicken around until it's covered well. Deep fry the chicken in oil (preferably peanut oil) and drain on paper towels.

Keep warm while you prepare the sauce; Blend 1/2 c water, vinegar, lemon juice, lemon extract and a drop of sesame oil in a saucepan. Heat to boiling and in a different cup or container mix the last 1 T cornstarch with 1 T water until smooth. Whisk or stir this into the lemon mixture. It should thicken and clear within 30 seconds as you stir. Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve!
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Old Fashioned Tapioca Pudding

With the cold weather starting here in the heartland I was craving tapioca pudding. My favorite flavor of pudding... but only if it's homemade. I don't care for the chemical taste of boxed puddings so I prefer to make it from scratch whenever possible.

About two or three years ago I had bought a package of old fashioned tapioca at a Mennonite store in my hometown in Iowa. Over the past year or so I've wanted to make tapioca pudding a couple of times but I *thought* my tapioca granules were gone as I hadn't seen them in ages. Well, imagine my surprise when I was looking through my 'Christmas' stash for dried coconut and I saw my 'almost new' bag of tapioca! I was so excited I immediately added water to 1/2 cup of the granules and set them to soak. Last night we enjoyed the most delicious vanilla-y warm tapioca pudding for dessert and lucky for me there is a little leftover today for me to enjoy!

I found another version of tapioca pudding in my recipe box (I may have posted it previously?) and it's the one I made 'last time' that I didn't like as much as the one I made this time. This time around I used an old Mennonite recipe so I knew it would be delicious... and it was. It's now replaced the other version in my recipe files and I think it will in yours too!

*NOTE*
This recipe uses old fashioned tapioca granules. NOT quick-cooking tapioca nor instant tapioca. You must use the kind that soaks over night or at least for 8 hours.

Old Fashioned Tapioca Pudding


1/2 c old fashioned tapioca granules
3/4 c sugar
1 quart milk
another 3/4 c sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla
3 eggs

Soak your tapioca in water to cover overnight. Be sure to use enough water! I would suggest about 3 cups water to 1/2 c granules.

Drain off the excess water gently. It does not need to be drained dry, just drain it briefly. A little water left in the container is fine.

It will look a little bit like icy little snow at this point.

In a saucepan over medium high heat mix the milk and 3/4 c sugar. Heat just to boil and return the heat down to medium. Add the tapioca. Whisk the 3 eggs with the second 3/4 c sugar and the vanilla until well beaten. SLOWLY drizzle the mixture into the hot milk while whisking the entire time. Do not pour quickly and do not stop whisking as you want to incorporate the eggs completely. Raise the heat just a bit to bring to a brief boil and then lower the heat back down to simmer for a couple minutes until it's smooth and thick.

Let cool a bit before eating. Can be served warm or cold. My husband prefers it with whipped cream.
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11/13/07

Wild Rice Soup with Corn Bread

I make a delicious wild rice soup that I 'made up' when we lived in Brainerd, Minnesota - surrounded by delicious wild rice! But that doesn't mean I'm not always on the look out for other versions. When I saw this recipe I think what intrigued me wasn't the soup, but the corn bread. You see I typically serve my wild rice soup with a toasted garlic bread or something similar but I only serve corn bread with chili style soups.

When I started to read the ingredients I smiled. I think this corn bread sounds grand. Why? Because although I love love love corn bread, my sense of taste when it comes to baking powder is quite pronounced and any time I eat a food with baking powder in it I can taste it and my tongue becomes almost numb. It's an odd sensation. It's not from too much baking powder, it's just from baking powder itself being in the food. Not a big deal and I don't let it keep me from eating biscuits and cornbread or pancakes! Ha.

But the cake mix in the corn bread I think will give it an especially good flavor and texture. I am placing this recipe here from my 'collection' and if I remember to pick up a box of yellow cake mix I shall try it.




Wild Rice Soup

1/2 lb wild rice
1 quart water
1 t salt
3 quart chicken stock
3 quart heavy cream
1/4 lb butter (1 stick)
1/4 lb toasted almonds
1/3 c flour, scant
1 c carrots, chopped
1 c onion, chopped
1 c celery, chopped
1 t salt
1 dash white pepper
1/2 stick of butter (in addition to the 1 stick, above)

Cornbread:
2 c corn muffin batter already mixed
2 c dry yellow cake mix
1 egg
1 oz vegetable oil
1/2 c plus 2 T water
1 c cream corn
2 c shredded cheddar jack cheese


Cook Rice in water and salt-set aside. Saute' carrots, onion, celery in butter then add flour. Cook and stir for 1-2 minutes to remove the flour taste. Combine rice, heavy cream, chicken stock, almonds, and seasoning with vegetables. Simmer 1 hour, cut the remaining butter into pieces and stir until melted.

Cornbread:
Combine all ingredients, mix on low for 1 minute and then medium for 2 minutes more. Heat an iron skillet on stove, pour 1 1/2 cups of batter in skillet and place in 325 degree oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
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11/12/07

Make Ahead Gravy or Do Ahead Gravy

Last year, the week before Thanksgiving I posted a recipe for Make Ahead Gravy. I want to draw attention to it this week (and will probably mention it next week too!) because I've noticed a lot of people on the internet searching for versions of this. The only real trick to make ahead gravy is that the rue is made from flour and butter so it doesn't separate like a corn starch thickened gravy will.




I started making this back around 1991 and it is by far the absolute best tasting gravy I've ever had. I'm always trying 'new' recipes through out the year just to make sure I'm serving my family the best of everything - but I always go back to this one. Thanksgiving will never be celebrated in our home without this recipe!

The link is above by clicking on the words. You can make it now and refrigerate in a tightly sealed container in the coldest part of your refrigerator or freeze it until you need it.
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11/11/07

Seasoned Pretzels

Around this time of year I start to crave snack mixes like the ever-popular and ever-traditional Chex Mix and the ranch oyster crackers, seasoned pretzels, etc. I think it's both the colder weather and the holidays that make it seem 'right' for this kind of snack.

I bet most of my readers have had seasoned pretzels and a good portion of those people don't know how to make them or have just never 'thought about it'. But once you see how easy and quick it is you'll see that even an elementary school child can make them.

Enjoy!


Seasoned Pretzels (onion flavored)

1 1/4 c butter or margarine
1 pkg dry onion soup mix
1 (16-ounce) bag pretzel rods, broken into 1 inch pieces or small original pretzels

In microwaveable bowl, melt the butter. Stir in soup mix. Return to the microwave for about 30 more seconds and stir until well mixed. Add pretzels; toss to coat. Spread pretzel mixture in a baking pan. Bake at 250' for 1-1/2 hours, stirring every 15 minutes. Cool. Store in an airtight container.
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11/9/07

Honeybun Cake (Cinnamon Swirl Cake)

Honeybun Cake

1 yellow cake mix with pudding
1/2 c oil
4 eggs
16 oz sour cream
1 c brown sugar
4 t cinnamon
1 c powdered sugar
1 t vanilla
2 T hot water

Mix cake mix, oil, eggs and sour cream and pour half of the mixture into a greased 9X13 inch cake pan. Mix brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle evenly across batter. Pour the other half of the batter on top and bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes until it tests done in the center.

Glaze: Mix the powdered sugar and vanilla and start with just one tablespoon warm water. Glaze should be thin enough to spread on warm cake, add 1 to 2 more tablespoons water if necessary to get a drizzle/spread effect.
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11/8/07

Apple Stack Cake

Back in 1999 a good friend of mine that lives in Atlanta, GA was looking for a certain recipe to make for her Mother. It seems their Grandmother used to make a delicious Apple Stack Cake with layers and layers of thin cake with some kind of apple filling between them. My friend hadn't had it since she was a very young child and her grandmother had long ago passed away. She wanted to surprise her Mom by making this favorite cake for her but had no idea how to find the recipe.

The internet was not nearly as complete as it is now - it was just a 'baby' of sorts. So she and searched the internet as well as cookbooks at the library and my own very large collection of cookbooks trying to find one that sounded like the one her Grandmother made all those years ago. In the end she found out that her Mom had a copy of it - she just never liked cooking or baking so she had never made it. My friend copied down the recipe and made the cake for Mother's Day that year.

Here we are not even 10 years later but recipes are so easily found on the internet! Still... I cherish the handwritten recipes from the old box of my Grandmother more than I do any generic recipe on a website.

Apple Stack cake


1/2 c shortening
3/4 c sugar
1 c. molasses
1 egg beaten well
1/2 c. buttermilk
1 t vanilla
3 1/2 c flour
2 t baking powder
1/2 t soda
1/2 t salt
1/4 t ginger
1/4 t cloves
1 t cinnamon

Filling:
Equal amounts of apple butter and apple sauce mixed together. (Use one jar each.)


Cream sugar and shortening. Add egg, molassas, vanilla and buttermilk. Mix well. Add the dry ingredients and mix well.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to a 9 inch circle. Add flour when rolling and cutting so the dough is nice and stiff. Makes as many thin layers as you can - try to get 12-14. Bake each at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 mins. and let cool. When cool stack with a thin layer of apple mixture between each layer. Let stand overnight before serving.
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Removing Fat From Broth

That's not ice cream!

Whether you have a whole chicken, parts or just breasts, a simple broth is made by simmering your chicken in water just to cover and when you remove the chicken, save the water you cooked it in!

A more flavorful and rich broth is made by adding some celery, onion and carrots to the water while it's cooking as well as a tiny bit of sage or thyme perhaps. If you've roasted a chicken and only need part of the juices that run into the pan be sure you add that to your broth or freeze for future use. You don't even have to use the broth right away. Pour it into a container of almost any type and put it in the freezer for a future date! You'll have the best soup, gravy or sauce when you start with real, homemade broth.

Now, what happens if you use a whole chicken and when you take your broth out of the refrigerator or you thaw it from the freezer and you see a thick layer on the top? That's the fat. As the broth cools the fat rises to the top and you are left with a clear, delicious and healthy gel on the bottom layer. Simply scrape or 'lift' the top layer off and discard. You now have a wonderful chicken broth to work with.

See how easy that was?


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11/6/07

Some recipes using pre-packaged spice mixes

While surfing for holiday gift ideas online I found myself at the Tupperware site and spied a link to one of my all time favorite topics; Recipes! I was thinking about what a great gift idea that would be to purchase one of their containers and place a copy of a recipe and one of their spice packets in the container, wrap it up pretty and present it to my Mom or one of my SIL's. I know I love (love love love) to get kitchen and baking products for gifts and they are the most used and appreciated gifts of the season because I use them all year long.

So this morning I offer you a couple recipes from the Tupperware site and at the bottom you'll find a link to the spice seasonings. The recipes are for the garlic seasoning blend but you'll notice the seasonings come in not only garlic but; cinnamon and vanilla, Italian herb and southwest chipotle. And all are gluten free!~


Simply Garlic Vinaigrette

Makes about 2/3 cup

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup flax oil or extra virgin olive oil
4 tsp. sweetener or sugar
1 Tbsp. water
1 Tbsp. Simply Garlic Seasoning Blend

Place all ingredients in a covered container, seal and shake or in a bowl and whisk until well blended. Garlic flavor will intensify with time.


Roasted Garlic Potatoes
Makes 4 servings

1 (1 lb. 4 oz.) pkg. red potatoes, 1/4" slices
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1-2 Tbsp. Simply Garlic Seasoning

In a bowl, coat sliced potatoes with olive oil and Seasoning. Place potatoes on a greased baking sheet and bake at 400°F for 20-25 minutes.

Recipe Variation:
For Roasted Italian Potatoes, substitute 1-2 Tbsp. Italian Herb Seasoning



Simply Garlic Gravy
Makes 4 servings

1 (15 oz.) can of chicken or beef broth (or homemade!)
1 Tbsp. Simply Garlic Seasoning Blend
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 cup water

In a 2 1/2 Qt. Sauce Pan, bring broth and Seasoning to a boil. In measuring cup mix corn starch in water; add to broth mixture. Allow to boil for approximately two minutes; mixture will thicken. Serve over potatoes, rice or meat.



Here are the seasoning packets I told you about;


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11/5/07

Cheesy Potatoes

*edited 2008*
In case you are coming here from a search engine there is another cheesy potato listing for this recipe on my site for 2008. Don't forget to check out this one on the main page; 2008 Cheesy Potatoes using an onion and 2 cups of cheese.



This recipe is found all over the internet, cookbooks, recipe boxes, written on pieces of paper, and just made from memory as I think it's one of the most popular potato dishes there is. It's also one that easily is adapted to whatever you may or may not have on hand to add. Versatile dishes like this are a lifesaver to busy Moms everywhere!

Cheesy Potatoes


1 large package frozen hash brown potatoes (I've used everything from 16 oz. to 30 oz)
1 can cream soup (celery or chicken)
16 oz. sour cream
1 c shredded cheese (cheddar is good but use what you have)
1/4 c butter, melted
salt, pepper
1 t onion powder
*garlic salt, garlic powder - optional for more flavor


Mix and bake in a greased 9X13" pan in the oven for approximately 1 hour at 350-375. Or you can put it into a crockpot. Stir often or the cheese will brown around the bottom and edges. Of course that's one of my favorite parts, so I don't!

You can add crushed breadcrumbs on top, you can add diced ham to make it a full meal in itself. You can add a tablespoon of a flavor mix like Montreal Chicken or any other of your favorite premixed spices. Add more or less cheese, add peppers, onions (be careful they can take over this dish so use sparingly!). Almost anything goes well in this dish! If you use a 2 lb. package of potatoes you'll want to increase the soup to 2 cans.

UPDATED JULY 30, 2008

This version (here) uses cream or evaporated milk and no sour cream to make an amazing, delicious dish! I made these twice in one week they were so good!
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11/2/07

Cream of Asparagus Soup

Autumn is a little warmer than normal this year, but the chilly weather has found us and it's perfect weather for soups!

Our family loves creamy soups with a loaf of bread. Yes, even the kids. Why? How? Because remember; kids will eat what you give them. Serve it. Make them try three bites. They don't like it? Ok - after three bites if they truly don't like it they don't have to finish it, but you will serve it again in the future and they will try it again in the future. Three bites. Also; if you continuously serve hot dogs, spaghetti, pizza and burgers over and over and over - I'm not sure why you would think your kids would miraculously like all the new and different foods you suddenly thrust in front of them.

Instead, for one month try banning all take out food or restaurants. Also ban the top 5 foods you serve over and over again. No spaghetti, burgers, hot dogs or taco's for an entire month. Instead for an entire month serve healthier, homemade alternatives. I bet by the end of the month you will not only have healthier bodies, but your husband and kids will have found at least 6-10 new foods that they like. :)

Today I bring you what we had for dinner last night; Cream of Asparagus Soup



2 lbs. fresh asparagus
1 lg. onion
5 T butter
5-6 c chicken broth
1/2 c heavy cream or half and half
1/2 t lemon juice
salt and pepper
1/2 c shredded smoked gouda cheese

Snap the stems of the asparagus where the natural break occurs when you bend the stalk. This will remove the wood fibers and ensure a smooth soup. Cook the asparagus either in a bit of water in a saucepan on the stovetop or in a microwave. Meanwhile cook the chopped onion in the butter until translucent.

Puree' the asparagus and onion in a blender or food processor with a tiny bit of the cooking water as well as the butter the onions were cooked in until smooth.



Mix the asparagus mixture with chicken broth and lemon juice in a saucepan and simmer 20 minutes. Add the cream and stir. Spoon into bowls and top with smoked gouda.




*This recipe is a repost. Not only because it's the right time of year and it's so good - but because this time I have photos!!! * Enjoy.
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