12/30/07

Polka Dot Recipe Cards

I guess I had polka-dots on the brain yesterday as my youngest daughter wants dots on her birthday cake this year and I was thinking about that when I decided to sit down and do some fun recipe cards for myself.

In keeping with the spirit of sharing... I am putting my recipe cards here for you to print as well! Just click on the photo to open it in its own window, full size and print on cardstock.







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Homemade White Frosting

If you are also making cakes this weekend (as I posted I am, below) then you'll be needing some frosting! Soooo many recipes for frosting. Isn't interesting that they almost all use basically the same ingredients, but give or take one or two and you have a completely different taste or texture?

Here is another vanilla frosting (or white frosting) to add to your collection as well.



White Frosting

1 c butter
1 c shortening
1/2 c milk
2 t vanilla extract
8 c powdered sugar
couple dashes of salt

Cream the butter and shortening together until smooth, about 12 minutes. Gradually add the sugar, milk and vanilla. Mix until smooth.
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12/29/07

Improved White Cake with Sour Cream

This week I have two daughters birthdays. One of them is away in England this week so although her birthday is tomorrow we will be celebrating the night she arrives home from London, on January 2nd, which also happens to be her sisters birthday. Both girls insist they need their own cakes... LOL. I don't blame them! I think they do too!

While searching through my collection of recipes for cake ideas I saw this recipe and what caught my eye was that it used my favorite store-bought white cake mixes but added enough ingredients from my kitchen to improve it. It also makes enough for 2 birthday cakes! I plan on making it this week, as soon as I can get to the store to buy more eggs as I currently don't have 8 egg whites in the house after all the holiday baking I just did this week.

After baking I will be freezing the cakes to make it easier to decorate them on Monday or Tuesday. I'm excited to try this one - of course pictures and a review will be forthcoming!



White Cake

2 boxes white cake mix
2 c flour
2 c white sugar
1 1/2 t salt
2 2/3 c water
1/4 c canola oil
2 t vanilla
2 t almond extract
16 oz. sour cream
8 large egg whites, room temperature

Place all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and beat just to blend. Add the water, oil, vanilla, almond extract, sour cream and egg whites and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour into 2-4 greased and floured pans (shape of your choice, 2 9X13 or 4 smaller round), filling each pan about half full. Bake at 325° F oven until cake tests done in the center.
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12/28/07

Printable Retro Recipe Cards

This morning I was sitting here sipping some coffee and watching the snow fall outside. It's beautiful - because I don't have to go out into it, LOL - and I decided to open up an editing program and just start making some recipe cards. Although I started to make a holiday themed card the next thing I knew I was using old retro graphics instead.

I made them quickly for myself and my own personal use, but I decided to put them here so you could print them too - as I'm not selling them and they are free. Click on them to open a new window of their own in full size.




















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12/27/07

Layered Taco Dip

After a few years of planning and cooking a large meal on Christmas day I realized that for us at least, Christmas day was more of a lazy, lounging, snack and play with your new toys kind of day and the kids nor Dh and I were interested in big meals.

Instead we have our traditional Christmas Eve meal and I plan easy 'snackable' foods for Christmas Day where people can grab what they want when they are hungry, but no sit down meal.

This year I made a crockpot full of BBQ Little Smokies, a second crock of Jalapeno Little Smokies, a third crock pot held cheesy potatoes and then I whipped up a simple layered taco dip which was served with tortilla chips. Of course the cookie trays and cheese and cracker trays were out as well!


I covered my Pampered Chef stone with foil but you can use whatever platter you wish for the base. You can also microwave it instead of baking if you prefer and your serving platter is conducive to such.


Taco Dip

1 can refried beans
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 - 16 oz. container sour cream
1 package Taco Seasoning mix
1 c shredded lettuce
1/2 c salsa or diced tomatoes
1/3 c chopped or diced onion or green onion
1 small can sliced black olives
8 oz. finely shredded cheese of your choice


Spread the refried beans on your platter. Top with the black beans. Bake at 350 for 15-18 minutes until warmed through. Mix the taco seasoning with the sour cream and spread over the beans (You can also mix the taco seasoning with the beans if you want to keep your sour cream layer bright white). Layer the lettuce, cheese, salsa or tomatoes and onions. Top with the black (ripe) olives. Serve! Good warm or cold and I've never had extra's over the past 20 years that I've been making versions of this!
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12/25/07

Lemon Cracker Pudding

I have a cookbook published in 1953 by Meta Given that I believe either came from my Great Aunt L or my MIL, who died 4 years before I met my husband. So many wonderful 'old' recipes that just say "I'm comfort food just like you remember your great grandmother making..." This is one of them.

Lemon Cracker Pudding

1 c evaporated milk
1 c water
2/3 c coarse cracker crumbs
3/4 c sugar
1/2 t salt
2 T lemon juice
1/2 t grated lemon rind
2 T melted butter
2 eggs, separated
1/4 c sugar
1 T lemon juice

Add milk to the water and scald in top of a double boiler. Combine cracker crumbs, 3/4 c sugar, salt, 2 T lemon juice and the rind and add slowly to scaled milk and water, stirring constantly. Stir in melted butter and beaten egg yolks. Pour into greased baking dish and bake at 325 degree's for 45 minutes. Remove from oven, cover with meringue made by beating the whites of eggs until stiff, gradually adding the 1/4 c sugar and 1 T lemon juice. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes until meringue is brown. Serve warm or cold. Makes about 5 servings.


*notes*
Although this old recipe doesn't say what kind of crackers to use I believe there were probably only one or two versions readily available at the time so I would hazard a guess that she used saltine or perhaps Ritz. I think either would do but personally I'd use saltine.
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12/24/07

Chocolate Orange Truffles

My regular readers know I don't care for chocolate very much, but when I do eat chocolate one thing I really can't handle is 'fruit' mixed with chocolate. Especially orange or raspberry! However, I do realize I am odd, in the minority and just plain weird so I dug into my recipe collections and found this one. The problem is that I have no idea where it came from. It uses Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk so perhaps it's from the Eagle company themselves?

Truffles are wonderful, so if you are looking for an orange truffle, here's your answer!



Orange Chocolate Truffles


1 can (300 mL) Regular Eagle Brand® sweetened condensed milk
16 squares (1 oz/28g each) semi-sweet chocolate
1 tbsp (15 mL) pure orange extract, or to taste
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) finely grated orange zest (optional)

1. Combine sweetened condensed milk and chocolate in heavy bottom saucepan over low heat, stirring continuously until chocolate is melted.
2. Remove from heat and stir in orange extract (and zest, if using). Chill until firm enough to handle, about 2-3 hours.
3. Shape into 1-inch (2.5 cm) balls (a melon baller is helpful). Roll in any of the coatings, and place on parchment lined cookie sheet. Chill again until firm.

Optional Coatings: finely chopped roasted hazelnuts/filberts or other nuts, unsweetened cocoa powder, green decorating sugar, icing sugar or 1/2 cup/125 mL unsweetened cocoa powder mixed with 2 tbsp/30 mL icing sugar.
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12/20/07

Egg Nog for those who Hate Egg Nog (like me)

I didn't grow up drinking egg nog. I don't remember my mother ever buying or making it, so when my husband started to insist we add egg nog to our Christmas Eve festivities I was hesitant. All I could think of was that I was going to drink raw eggs? I don't think so!

But to appease him I bought some store bought egg nog and served it one year. He loved it. I did not. I don't like the taste of nutmeg and I couldn't get the thought of the eggs out of my mind. In reality I knew the drink was pasteurized but I really didn't care for the flavor and neither did the kids. While my husband was determined to have egg nog during the holidays, I was determined to find an acceptable way to 'doctor it up' a bit. Thus... this recipe was born and now, my husband won't drink any egg nog but mine.

Here is the most important thing about this recipe... play with it. Add, delete, make it yours. Don't follow it precisely! Make it your own. Enjoy!


Eggnog for those who hate Eggnog

4 c milk
1 package instant sugar free vanilla pudding
1 carton of prepared eggnog
1/2 c amaretto liqueur
1/4 t salt
1/4 t ground nutmeg
1 t almond extract

In a bowl mix the pudding with 2 cups of the milk. Stir until thickened and smooth. Add the remaining 2 cups milk, the eggnog, almond extract, salt and nutmeg. Stir until it's blended. Refrigerate until needed.


*notes*
You can use vanilla instead of almond
You can leave out the salt and nutmeg altogether
You can use full sugar pudding if you prefer
Leave out the amaretto to make it completely alcohol free
Add more milk if it's too thick
Use 1 cup of egg substitute like Egg Beaters in place of the eggnog if you would like


See? Have fun! And yum...
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Quick Icing Recipe



With as many cookies that are going to be made this weekend I figured I should just put a couple icing recipes up here... they are really so forgiving you can add/delete without too much worry. Here is a good basis to start from.


1 c powdered sugar
3 tsp heavy cream
1 tsp white Karo syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract



If you don't have cream, substitute half and half. If you don't have either, then yes, use milk. You can also use almond extract instead of vanilla, or even use a lemon or peppermint if your cookie would compliment such. Need your icing a little thicker? Add more confectioner's sugar by the tablespoon. Need it to be a little thinner? Start with a 1/2 teaspoon of cream and add accordingly.

Remember - if you are going to color the icing use gel paste coloring for the best color. If you use drops or liquid you may need to add a teaspoon of powdered sugar to make up for the extra liquid in the recipe. Have fun with it!
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Cut Out Cookies with Fiori di Sicilia

If you are lucky enough to have Fiori di Sicilia and Bakers Ammonia in your cupboard then this recipe is for you. I *think* it came from King A's Flour company but I'm not entirely sure. What I do know is that these two ingredients make a very light, crisp cookie similar to what you may have had at your local bakery. If you don't have Fiori di Sicilia just substitute almond extract instead but if you don't have bakers ammonia, then forgo this recipe for another.

Cut out Cookies with Fiori di Sicilia


1 c butter
2 c powdered sugar
2 Ts light corn syrup
1/2 t Fiori di Sicilia
1/2 t salt
1 egg, lightly beaten with 2 tablespoons water
1 t baker's ammonia
3 1/2 c King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

Cream together the butter, powdered sugar and corn syrup until light and fluffy. Beat in the Fiori di Sicilia 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.

Divide dough in half, cover or wrap it, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Using one piece of dough at a time, roll it out very thinly (about 1/16-inch thick) on a lightly floured surface, using more flour to keep the dough from sticking to the table or rolling pin. Cut out shapes, transfer to ungreased cookie sheets, and bake just until 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 wire rack to cool completely. Cookies may be frosted after baking, or sprinkled with sugar before baking.

Yield: about 4 dozen 2-inch cookies.
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12/19/07

Rosettes


When I was a child Christmas meant going to my Grandma H's for Christmas Eve and my Grandma N for Christmas day. No Christmas Eve was ever complete without Oyster Stew, Lutefisk and Rosettes. You can probably guess... we're Swedish. LOL. My mother never made rosettes but my Grandmother did, and later after I was married with three children, I received a cheap rosette set for Christmas one year. It has become one of my most treasured gifts. It has seen many uses and hopefully... many more!

This year while making rosettes I realized that I think this is, perhaps my all time favorite Christmas cookie. Although not truly a 'cookie' perhaps, I'll say it's my favorite Christmas goody.

You must have a rosette/timbale set to make these.


Rosettes

2 eggs
1 t sugar
1/4 t salt
1/2 t vanilla
1 c milk
1 c flour

Break eggs into a bowl, add sugar, salt, vanilla, milk and flour. Beat briefly just until smooth. Do not overbeat! Too much beating makes your rosettes blistered and tough.

Have hot oil, lard or shortening in a pan on the stove heating. Leave the rosette iron in the hot oil for several minutes while you make the batter. Dip the hot iron into the batter being careful not to let the batter come up over the edge of the iron. Dip just about 4/5th of the way up the iron. Immediately place the iron/batter into the hot oil. Hold the iron in place and cook the rosette until it's golden brown and crisp. The temperature of the oil is perfect when it takes about 25-30 seconds for the rosette to cook. Too fast and it burns, too cool and it will be soggy and greasy. Use a fork to shake the rosette off the iron and onto a paper towel lined rack. When they are cool sprinkle with powdered sugar. These can be frozen. This recipe will make about 40.

If they do not come off the iron they were not fried long enough or you let the batter come up over the edge of the iron.
If they are blistered and thick, you have beaten the eggs too much.
If the rosettes drop off in the hot oil the iron is not deep enough in the oil.
If they are not crisp they have been fried too fast or the oil was not hot enough.



Heat the iron in the oil while you mix the batter

You must have a rosette set to make these.


Don't dip the batter up over the edge of the iron so they will slide off after frying.


Drain on paper towels

Sprinkle with powdered sugar for a delicious treat!


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12/17/07

Strawberry Christmas Squares

I have a friend who makes bars she calls Strawberry Squares. I thought they sounded delicious so I got the recipe from her last summer but time got away from me and I never got them made. It has all the ingredients I love, from a brown sugar and flour crust (my favorite part of any bar!) to all fruit jam and almonds! Yum! Yet... this summer was a whirlwind and before I knew it Fall, Thanksgiving and now Christmas are here. When I saw this recipe in my files today I decided to type it out here to save for future reference. I think the red in the jam would make a beautiful Christmas bar. Don't you?



Strawberry Squares

2 cups flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup of chopped almonds
3/4 cup of butter

Combine all ingredients and mix till crumbly. Reserve 3/4 cup for the top and press the remainder into a 8" square baking pan. Bake at 350 for about 12-15 minutes.



2-8-oz packages of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2tsp almond extract
1 cup of strawberry jam
3/4 cup sliced almonds

Beat the cream cheese,sugar, eggs and almond extract on medium speed till smooth. Spread evenly over the hot crust. Bake for 15 minutes. Stir the jam till smooth then spread it over the filling. Add the almonds to the reserved topping. Sprinkle over the jam and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes and chill for at least 3 hours before serving.
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12/16/07

Cut Out Sugar Cookies - Snowflake Cookies


Cut-out sugar cookies are interesting to me because basically you have but maybe four recipes that a thousand different versions come from. One uses granulated sugar, one uses powdered sugar, some may use cream of tartar and others use baker's ammonia. Other than that you have some butter, flour, eggs, baking soda, salt, vanilla.... the amounts change but using the same basic ingredients you get sugar cookies with tastes and textures that are so very different from each other. Of course other factors figure in there too like the temperature of your butter or your eggs, how old your baking supplies are, the temperature of the oven, etc. but I'm still just in awe that cookies (and cakes) start with the same basic ingredients and come out so very different.

This cookie recipe is probably one that a million women have already, and well, let's make it one million and one. Today we are going to cut them into snowflakes. You can find the snowflake cookie cutters almost anywhere these days, although when I bought mine they were difficult to find and the internet wasn't in as heavy use as it is now. I had to order mine from a real, honest to goodness old fashioned catalog. LOL. You can find them in stores, in catalogs and online easily now so - go get yourself some snowflake cookie cutters and then come back.

You're back?

Great! Let's get started.


Sugar Cookies


1 1/2 c granulated sugar
1 1/2 c butter, soft
2 eggs
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
4 c flour
1 t baking soda
1 t cream of tartar
1 t salt

Combine sugar and butter, beat until creamy with your electric mixer. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat well. Add dry ingredients and mix until blended. Chill dough until it's easy to work with; 30-60 minutes.

On lightly floured surface roll the dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out cookies. Bake at 350 until the edges just start to turn golden brown, about 10 minutes. Cool on wire racks.


Decorating Idea:

Use your favorite frosting recipe, but store bought frosting won't work well for piping. You can use one of my frosting recipes if you would like, here is the one I posted for Valentine Cookies.

For my snowflake cookies I didn't actually use a frosting recipe, I just put powdered sugar, some butter, a little cream, an egg white and vanilla in the mixer and whipped it.

I also did not feel like getting out my decorator tips and couplers so to decorate the cookies I used a disposable decorating bag and simply snipped the tip off with a pair of scissors. Using this, pipe frosting onto your cookies in a design that you prefer.

For sparkle you can purchase edible glitter in the cake/cookie decorating aisle of your local store. Most Walmarts, grocery stores and fabric and craft stores will have this. The one I used was by Wilton. Sprinkle glitter on while the frosting is still wet so it will stick. The frosting will start to set up within minutes so sprinkle as you decorate each cookie, don't go back and try to do 15 at a time as the frosting will have already hardened on the top (although it will remain squishy for hours so don't stack them!).

Let your cookies sit about 10 hours (I let them set overnight) before stacking or freezing.





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12/15/07

Don't Just String Popcorn!

A few times when the kids were younger we strung popcorn to hang on the tree. The trick of course is to use popcorn that is at least a day or two old. Fresh popcorn falls apart. *grin*

However, why stop with popcorn? Have some fun!! Depending on your color scheme, theme or just your own interest (or what you have on hand?) string other things.

How beautiful to string cranberries! The brilliant deep reds would be gorgeous. Toffee coated popcorn! How pretty with the caramel colored glaze.

My favorite? Jellybeans!

What a great fun project to do with kids... and if you have a brightly colored 'family' tree it would look great with the colorful jellybeans strung through the branches. The great thing about jelly beans is that they hold their shape well, they are easy to thread and you have so many color combinations you could coordinate your string of candy to almost any theme - even a more elegant ivory and gold, or burgundy and cream. Got an NFL themed tree in your home? Choose your jellybeans to match!

Christmas is a time for fun... this is just one more way to add it.

PS: We had to stop using these altogether when we got our cats. They even climbed up the center of the tree and knocked the upper branches until one of my gingerbread ornaments fell to the ground and then ate it! Smart little buggers that they are.
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12/13/07

What is almond bark? Where can I find almond bark?

Last summer on a different blog of mine, I decided to write about what 'almond bark' was since so many people online seem to be utterly confused as to what it is or where to find it.

You'll use it to make candy coated pretzels, dipped chocolates, homemade truffles, etc. Any recipe that calls for almond bark is talking about this;


http://amzn.to/2kWokCl

No, almond bark has no almonds.
No, it has no nuts at all.
No, it's not the finished confection you buy in a candy shop with bits of nuts or candy in it.
No, it is not bakers chocolate, unsweetened chocolate or anything similar to those.

Yes it is in your grocery store.
Yes it is near the chocolate chips - usually on a bottom rack or shelf.
Yes it comes in chocolate flavor or vanilla
Yes it comes in large blocks that you either cut apart with a large knife or bang on the counter top to break apart. (Much much larger than tiny baker's chocolate blocks.)


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St. Nicholas Day Cookies

This morning I was looking through my photo files to post on Christmas cookies when I found this picture of a cookie I had came across 2 or 3 (?) years ago and saved a copy to make for the feast of St. Nicholas, which is December 6th.

Well, it's now December 13th so I obviously found it 1 week too late to make them for the feast day. However! By putting them here in my online collection I will remember to decorate St. Nick cookies similar to this next year.

The photo shows a traditional gingerbread base but I'll make mine on sugar cookie. The details are really, all in the frosting. A few small tips on the frosting bags, colors pink, red, green, white... maybe I'll do the center in blue since the dark cookie won't be showing through. Lastly, will be the gold dusting powder. (They sell edible metallic dusting powders in the cake and cookie decorating aisles in the Wilton's decor area of fabric stores, craft stores and of course cake decorating businesses!)


Save a copy in your files for next December 6!
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12/12/07

Chocolate Gravy

About two years ago I heard a friend mention chocolate gravy. I had never heard of it, but since I don't share a love of chocolate that doesn't surprise me. I sometimes tend to bypass 'chocolate' anything. However the word gravy should have gotten my attention as I only eat mashed potatoes as an excuse to keep the gravy on my fork... although I've been known to use a spoon. I love gravy!

That is when I started to investigate just what chocolate gravy was. From the look of it chocolate gravy was just a less rich version of homemade chocolate pudding from what I could tell anyway. No eggs, just thick chocolate milk. But obviously people like it, and they seem to like it on biscuits. I think, if I was to make it I'd make my biscuits just a little on the sweet side as well. I personally would rather have some bacon, cheese and egg on my biscuits, but for those that want their chocolate gravy, I'll include this recipe for you. Although recipes vary slightly on amounts or some use part water instead of milk, this one seems to be a compilation of the 3 I found that looked the best. Enjoy your chocolate.


Chocolate Gravy

1/4 c cocoa
2 c milk
1/4 c flour
1/2 c sugar
dash of salt
1 t vanilla

Mix dry ingredients in microwave proof bowl. Heat milk for about 2 minutes and then combine with the dry ingredients. Microwave four about 4-5 minutes, stirring once every minute until it starts to thicken. Whisk in the vanilla, serve over biscuits.
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12/10/07

Almond Bon Bons


I'm pretty sure my Mother-in-law made something similar to this. She passed away before I started to date my husband so I can't ever know for sure... I have to rely on the memory of my husband but since his Mom was sick with breast cancer by the time he turned 10 years old and she spent the next two years in cancer-hell, his memories, sadly are what he can remember before the age of 10, which isn't much. He remembers she made "something like this...." and really, that's good enough for me. I like to think of her when I see these anyway because I know it looks like something she would have made for her family.

Almond Bon Bons

1 1/2 c flour
1/2 c butter, soft
1/3 c powdered sugar
2 T milk
1 t vanilla
4 oz. almond paste (comes in a tube)

Almond Glaze: 1 c powdered sugar
1/2 t almond extract
4 t milk - mix all until blended smooth.


Heat oven to 375. Beat flour, butter, powdered sugar, milk and vanilla on medium until mixed well. Slice almond paste into 1/2 inch slices and then cut each slice into fourths. Shape one inch balls of dough around each bit of almond paste. Roll into a nice ball shape. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet or parchment lined baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes until they are set and the bottom is just starting to get golden. Remove to a rack and cool completely. Dip the tops of the cooled cookie into the almond glaze.
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12/8/07

Peppermint Pinwheel Cookies


I made this cookie once about 10 years ago and a couple more times 7-8 years ago and then promptly forgot about making them again until Christmas of 2003 when I stumbled across my recipe again and I've made every year since. This will be our 5th year in a row they've graced the cookie platters we give out. Honestly, it's one of the first cookies grabbed and gobbled down. They are a favorite of the masses.

Peppermint Pinwheel Cookies

3/4 c butter
3/4 c sugar
1 egg yolk
1 t vanilla extract
2 c flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 t peppermint extract
red food color

In mixing bowl cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg yolk and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually add to the sugar mixture. Mix well. Divide dough in half. Add the red food color and peppermint extract to one half, leaving the other white. On a lightly floured work surface roll out the dough to a 16 X 10 inch rectangle with a piece of wax paper between the dough and your rolling pin. Repeat with the second dough. Carefully place the first dough over the second and lightly roll them to bind together. Roll up tightly from the long side. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for a couple hours until firm.

Unwrap the dough and cut into 1/4 inch slices placing them approximately 2 inches apart on greased baking sheets or parchment lined sheets. Bake at 350 approximately 12-14 minutes until set. Cool for 2 minutes before removing from the baking sheet to a rack to cool completely.




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Bisquick Chocolate Chip Cookies

When I first saw this recipe I am pretty sure my brows furrowed and I had a little bit of a pinched look on my face. You see, I've never been a Bisquick kind of girl. Not even as a teenaged newlywed with only 1 cookbook to my name and little more than salt and pepper for spices in my apartment cupboard.

I love to collect recipes though, especially recipes that intrigue me. I decided that this one was worth trying some day when I remembered to pick up the Bisquick mix at the store. I still haven't picked it up though. Through the years I believe I have purchased Bisquick twice. Both times for pancakes when I was too lazy to mix the mix myself. LOL. However, I know that some people *always* have Bisquick on hand and in their cupboards. And for my own collection as well as to offer my readers a chocolate chip cookie that not only starts with a Bisquick base but adds delicious bits of toffee, this one is for you!



Chocolate Chip Skor Cookies

1 C. butter flavored Crisco
2 C. packed brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs, beaten
5½ C. Bisquick
1 (12 oz.) pkg. mini semisweet chocolate chips
1 (10 oz.) pkg. Skor or Heath toffee chips
1 C. chopped pecans* optional
1-2 T. water (if needed)

Preheat oven to 350ยบ.

Mix Crisco, brown sugar, vanilla, and eggs in a large bowl, using a mixer. Stir in baking mix, all chips, and pecans. If dough appears too dry, add a little water, one tablespoon at a time. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls about 2" apart on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with a non-stick cooking spray. Bake about 11 minutes or until golden. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Store in airtight container.
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12/7/07

Crab Stuffed Chicken Breasts

This morning I wanted to share this recipe with you but I had to make a decision. I didn't take a picture of the finished product last night before I served them for dinner so I had to decide whether to post the recipe sans photo or do go to the refrigerator and dig out the leftover chicken and take a picture of it even though it won't be pretty like they were last night?

In the end, you can see that I am including a picture. I decided even a bad picture was better than none at all. This, is an ice cold leftover piece of the Crab Stuffed Chicken I served last night for dinner. I made 6 as my daughters boyfriend was over, but we had a major snowstorm last night and his Dad wanted him to come home and he couldn't stay for dinner. So this chicken you see photographed is straight from a little container in the refrigerator where I placed the chicken, ranch au gratin potatoes and some rice pilaf into a container for my husband to take to work today for lunch.



Crab Stuffed Chicken Breasts

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 T butter
1/4 c flour
3/4 c milk
1/4 c white wine
1 t lemon juice
1/3 c chicken broth
1/4 c chopped onion
1 c chopped mushrooms
1 T butter
6 oz. crabmeat
1/2 c crumbled saltine crackers
2 T chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper
1 c shredded white cheddar cheese
paprika

Pound the chicken breasts until thin. If you don't have chicken broth use a cup of water to 1 cube or teaspoon of bouillon but you only use 1/3 cup of it. If you don't have or don't want to use wine just use water or chicken broth in its place. It changes the taste just a bit so add a little more lemon juice (about a teaspoon) if you leave out the wine completely.

Melt 3 T butter in saucepan. Blend in the flour and cook over medium low 1-2 minutes. Add the milk, wine and chicken broth. Cook over medium high heat until it comes to a boil and thickens. Add the lemon juice and continue whisking and stirring until thick and smooth. Set aside.

Saute onions and mushrooms in 1 tablespoon butter until soft. Stir in crab, crackers, parsley and salt and pepper. Visually divide the stuffing into 4 (the number of chicken breasts you have) and heap the stuffing onto one end of the chicken breast. Roll up, turn in the edges and place in a prepared pan or casserole dish with the seam side down. Pour the prepared sauce over all and bake at 350, uncovered for an hour. Sprinkle with cheese and paprika and bake 5 minutes more until cheese is melted and golden.
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12/6/07

Lemon Thumbprint Cookies

Here's yet another thumbprint version! I have a chocolate thumbprint cookie posted below but this one is more my style as I'm not a fan of chocolate but I do love lemon!

Lemon Thumbprint Cookies

1 1/2 c butter, room temperature
1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 c white sugar
2 eggs
2 T lemon juice
2 t grated lemon zest
4 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 salt
1 c lemon curd or lemon pie filling (you can buy it in a can if you like)
powdered sugar

Cream together butter and cream cheese until smooth. Gradually beat in sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in juice and zest. Mix together flour, salt and baking powder and stir into butter mixture just until combined. Cover and chill until dough is firm.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Roll into balls using about a tablespoon of dough for each. Place on cookie sheet. Make indent with thumb in center of each cookie and fill with lemon curd.

Bake 12 to 15 minutes or till edges are just turning a light golden brown. Cool on baking sheet 2 minutes then remove to cooling rack. Dust with powdered sugar and store in airtight container.
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12/5/07

Candy Striped Cookie Sticks or Cookie Rolls


I don't know about you, but over the years I've copied down, cut out or otherwise saved many recipes that I want to make "some day... but not today". Yesterday I had to be home waiting on two deliveries so it was the perfect day to dig out a brand new recipe that I've put off for 'lack of time' or whatever reason.

The recipe I tried was an old Martha St*wart recipe and although she can employ professional chef's to make them oh-so-perfect and completely picture perfect, I think the finished cookie on an everyday average housewife level was pretty good too. They take a long time to make so be sure you have a good 2-3 hour window 'free' to embark on these if you decide to make them. I personally got to the point where I was so sick of making them that I got a little sloppy, my lines weren't perfectly straight and I didn't care anymore. At that point I threw away the rest of the batter (which would have made about 2 more cookies) and called out 'Enough!'. Unfortunately for me they were a huge hit with my family, they loved them and they've since declared we have yet another 'must have' during the holidays.

Before you start this recipe take a large piece of cardboard or tape two pieces of heavy card stock together. Using an exacto knife cut a rectangle in the center 3 inches by 6 inches. This will be your 'stencil' for the cookies.


Candy Striped Cookie Sticks

8 large egg whites
2 c sugar
2 c flour
1/4 t salt
1 1/4 sticks butter, melted
6 T heavy cream
1 1/2 t vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degree's while you place the egg whites and sugar in a mixing bowl. Mix on medium until foamy. Mix in flour and salt. Add melted butter, cream and vanilla. Mix. Place 3/4 c batter into each of two bowls. Tint one pink and one red. Transfer the tinted batter to decorator bags with a small round tip or if you don't have them, use a large ziplock baggy with a tiny corner cut off.


Lay the cardboard stencil on a silpat mat on a baking sheet or on parchment lined baking sheets. Using heaping tablespoon of dough, spread it in the stencil, smooth and lift the stencil to leave a rectangle cookie dough shape. Use the pink and red colored dough to pipe stripes on your cookie. Bake 6-8 minutes until the edges are pale golden brown.

Immediately loosen the edge of the cookie with a spatula and flip it over. Starting from one of the long sides, roll the cookie up into a cylinder shape - or a cookie stick or 'roll'. Let cool completely. (click on the photo below to make it larger and read the instructions as well as see the details).

These cookies set up fast after they come out of the oven so you must work quickly. I found it best to have three cookie sheets going at one time, as I would take one out of the oven I would have another cookie ready to go in, and one half way done cooking. This way I was removing a cookie and rolling it approximately every 3 minutes.

Makes about 25-30 cookies.
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12/4/07

Peppermint Snow Balls or Peppermint Tea Cakes


Here is the second one I sent to my friend "M" yesterday when she emailed me asking for some of my families favorite cookies for a cookie swap. (*waving hello to M on this post too just in case she is reading it... because I think she visits this site). It's similar to the traditional tea cake recipe (Mexican Wedding Cakes, Russian Tea Cakes, Snowballs... all the same thing with different names) that so many people make during the holidays. This one gives a peppermint spin to it and also makes them a beautiful pink color when rolled in the crushed candies. Add it to your list! They are well worth it.




Peppermint Tea Cakes

1 c real butter
1/2 c powdered sugar
1 t vanilla
1/2 t peppermint extract
2 1/4 c flour

1/4 salt
3/4 c crushed peppermint candies (crush them in your food processor until fine)
powdered sugar for rolling... about a cup


Beat the butter, powdered sugar and extracts. Stir in flour and salt. Stir in 1/4 cup of the crushed candy. Shape into 1 inch balls and bake on an ungreased baking sheet at 400 for about 8 minutes. Let set on the cookie sheet for a minute or two to cool a bit and 'set up' and then roll them in the powdered sugar. Cool 10 minutes on a wire rack and then roll in the remaining 1/2 c crushed peppermint candy.
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Chocolate Thumbprints

Yesterday I sent this recipe to one of my friends (*waving hello to M because I think she has found and visits this website...) and since I had this one and another all typed out in an email to her I knew it would be quick and simple to copy and paste here as well. This is one of my families favorite Christmas cookies. It's similar to the traditional thumbprints made with raspberry or cherry jam (which I also make) but since my crew tends to love chocolate I make these too and sure enough, they are one of the first cookies gone from the trays. Enjoy!



Chocolate Thumbprints

1/2 c butter (real)
1/4 c brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1 t vanilla
1 c flour
1 egg white
3/4 c fine chopped pecans
3/4 c chocolate chips

Cream the butter and brown sugar, beat in yolk and vanilla. Gradually add the flour and mix. Chill for about 2 hours.

Roll dough into 1 inch balls and dip in beaten egg white and then in the chopped nuts. Place on greased cookie sheets and use the end of a wood handle to make an indentation in each about 1/2 inch down. Bake 325 for 10 minutes. Press the indentation again as it will have baked up a bit. Bake another 10-12 minutes or so until the pecans are golden brown. Remove to wire racks to cool completely. Microwave the chocolate chips with a tiny bit of butter (about 1 tablespoon) and stir until smooth. Spoon into the indentation in the cookies. Let set.
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12/3/07

Perfect Molasses Cookie

Today I want to share with my readers the one cookie that I will eat about 7 of in one sitting - because they are that delicious and that addicting. Now, it's just a simple molasses cookie with a few spices, but it's... amazing. So amazing that it is the all-time-favorite cookie of my three kids.

Yes, you read that right. My 16, 15 and 11 year old children will chose this cookie first and foremost out of an entire tray with 20 different options. The mix I make up makes three batches if you don't want to make them all at once. Even if you don't 'like' cloves or allspice (I hate cloves) don't leave them out of this cookie! Go ahead and use them... the amounts are small enough you won't hate it, but it's enough to give the cookie just the perfect blend of flavors. I've been making this particular recipe for 10 years now and anticipate making it for another 60 more! Enjoy!


Perfect Molasses Cookies

6 c flour
3 c sugar
1 T baking soda
1 T baking powder
1 T ground ginger
1 T ground cinnamon
1 t ground nutmeg
3/4 t ground cloves
1/2 t ground allspice

Mix the above dry ingredients in a very large bowl with a wood spoon or wire whisk. When completely mixed divide the mixture into 3 large ziplock baggies with 3 cups of the mix in each. Make one ziplock at a time.

When you are ready to make cookies;

Add;
3/4 c soft butter (real)
1 egg
1/4 c molasses

to each 3 cup dry mix. Roll into 1 inch balls and roll in plain white granulated sugar. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes until the edge is firm and the top is cracked. Cool on the pan for 1 minute before moving to wire racks.



*edited to add*

Here is a bit of feedback I received by email from a reader who enjoyed these cookies!


I just wanted to let you know that you are so right about those molasses cookies. I made the whole batch and kept the dry and it was perfect. I went to a Christmas cookie swap and took those and they were a hit. I saw the hostess tonight at a school function and she told me how great they were and how she kept them from the rest of her family!

Anyway, thanks again. The recipe rocked!

Julie

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Feta Potatoes Au Gratin

My daughters and I love feta cheese. We love anything salty so cheese, green olives, pickles... all favorites around here. We also love potatoes au gratin on cold winter nights. Typically made with cheddar, I was excited to find this recipe because it used feta. If you love greek feta cheese this is one recipe worth trying.

Feta Potatoes Au Gratin

2 T butter
1 large onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
10 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
6 large potatoes, peeled
fresh cracked black pepper
2 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup bread crumbs

Melt 2 T of the butter in a pan. Add the diced onion and cook until translucent but not brown. Add the minced garlic and cook one minute longer. Remove the cooked onions and garlic to a bowl and set aside. When the mixture has reached room temperature add the crumbled feta and mix well. This mixture can be made up to 3 days in advance and kept covered in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. To avoid discoloration, slice the potatoes one at a time, as you need them, to create each layer. Slice it on a mandoline or with a potato grater in 1/8" thick slices and line the bottom of a 8"x6"x2" baking dish or any similar available dish. Season the layer with pepper but not salt. Add another layer of potatoes and season again with pepper. Cover with a layer of onion/feta mix. Pour over heavy cream just barely to the level of potato. Press down each layer as you create them, the potatoes should be just sitting in the cream and not completely covered by it.

Repeat the process two more times - potatoes, seasoning, feta, cream - and then top with a double layer of potato resulting in 8 layers of potato and 3 layers of onion/feta mix. When done, press down and make sure the potatoes are just barely sitting in the cream. The potatoes will give off water as they cook so it is important not to add too much liquid.

Cover with foil and bake 1 hour until the center potatoes are completely tender. Remove from the oven, top with a thin coating of bread crumbs. Return to the oven uncovered and cook until the crumbs are golden. Remove from the oven, recover with the foil and set aside in a warm place for the cream to set and thicken (about 10-20 minutes).
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12/2/07

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls from the Bread Machine

I have posted my typical cinnamon roll recipe on this site in the past along with a photo, just to make your mouth water, LOL. However, I've been intrigued by the recipes that use a pudding mix in the dough and not just in the filling. I found this recipe and liked that it used a bread machine to knead the dough as well as using the vanilla pudding in the dough.

Frosted Cinnamon Rolls


1 cup warm milk (just above room temperature)
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup butter softened
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups flour bread
1/4 cup instant pudding mix vanilla
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon yeast


1/4 cup butter softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

4 ounces cream cheese softened
1/4 cup butter softened
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla


In the bread machine pan, place first nine ingredients in order suggested by the manufacturer of your machine and select dough setting. When dough is completed, turn dough onto lightly floured surface.

Roll into a 17 in x 10 in rectangle. Spread with butter, sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon that have been mixed. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting from a long side; pinch seam to seal. Cut into 1 inch sliced. Place rolls cut side down in a greased jelly roll pan or use two pans if you don't have a large jelly roll sized. Cover and let rise inn a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes and frost with the icing above.
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Homemade Grilled Chicken Ravioli

At a restaurant last year I ordered Grilled Chicken Ravioli which was a dish that included ravioli served with a garlic cream sauce, caramelized onions and wilted spinach. I came home and tried to replicate the dish. I surfed the internet for similar recipes and then used idea's from about 5 or 6 of them to come up with my own dish. While surfing this is one of the recipes I came across. It's not what I wanted and didn't have a sauce listed so I didn't use it, but the ravioli itself sounded so good I had to add it to my collection! YUM! Sounds perfect for dinner tonight, I just have to check if I have any wonton wrappers in the freezer or not!


Grilled Chicken and Spinach Ravioli


8 oz. diced grilled chicken

4 oz. chopped fresh spinach

3 TBL olive oil

¼ cup white wine

1 tsp chopped garlic

¼ cup roasted chopped tomatoes

2 TBL chopped fresh basil

2 tsp chopped sage

1 Pkg Wonton wrappers

½ cup Ricotta cheese

½ cup diced Mozzarella cheese

Salt & Pepper to taste


Sautee chicken, spinach, garlic, basil, sage and tomato in olive oil 2 to 3 minutes. Add white wine, reduce heat for 2 to 3 minutes. In mixing bowl, add cheese with chicken/spinach mix and cool.
Make ravioli with wonton wrappers. You can freeze them at this point for future use. To cook, place in simmering hot water and cook 3 to 5 minutes.
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12/1/07

Round Sugar Cookies

About 10 years ago I was visiting one of my Grandmothers when she served the most delicious sugar cookies. They were just plain round cookies with large white sugar crystals on them and they were the exact cookie I had been looking for for years! I asked her what the secret was and she remarked that it was using oil in the recipe as well as butter and using powdered sugar. These don't work well for rolling out and cutting but are the most delicious, fast and easy 'round' sugar cookie.


Simple Sugar Cookies

1 c powdered sugar
1 c granulated sugar
1 c real butter, softened
1 c vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
4 c all-purpose flour
1 t cream of tartar
1/2 t salt
1 t baking soda

Cream sugars with butter, vegetable oil, and eggs. Add vanilla. Blend dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture; mix well. Chill dough for 2 hours. Scoop dough into walnut sized balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Use a glass dipped in sugar to flatten each cookie. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 8-10 minutes until the edges are slightly golden.
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Homemade Deep Dish Pizza





Pizza Dough

1 pkg. (2 1/4 t) dry active yeast
1 T sugar
1/2 t salt
1/4 c dry powdered milk
1 1/3 c warm water

Put into the bowl of a mixer or mix by hand. Wait 2 minutes.

2 T olive oil
4 c flour

Knead in a Kitchen Aid style (heavy duty) mixer 5 minutes or knead 10 minutes by hand. Let rest 10 minutes.

Depending on the thickness of the pizza you like - Use in 1, 2 or 3 greased, average 'home' sized large pizza pans Let raise about 1 1/2 hours and top with your choice. Bake at 400 approximately 16-25 minutes in a heavily greased pan depending the size of your pan and how many toppings you have on it. Bake until golden brown.








Related products available through Amazon;

Cast Iron Pizza Pan -14 Inch- Makes Amazing Golden Crust Pizza -Better than Ceramic or Stone Baking
Kamado Joe KJ-DDPS Deep Dish Pizza Stone
Sassafras SuperStone Deep Dish Pizza/Pie Baker
     

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