December 31, 2013

Cute Edible Horns for New Year's

Feeling a little bit guilty that I don't have a New Year's post up today.  Why?  Well, I'm going to celebrate the new year by sleeping through it!  I don't have little kids anymore so my teens to twenties all celebrate in their own ways.  My husband is actually working until about 11:00 tonight so my big plans are to head to bed with a book around 9:30 or 10:00 and hopefully sleep through the midnight revelries.  

So what is this post about?  It's about a fun, cute and easy idea for you to make for your own party, or with your kiddos!  Since I'm not making any goodies tonight, this one comes to you from Hungry Happenings where you can see the tutorial showing how to make these yummies for your own crew tonight.

Happy New Year!

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Never boil lasagna noodles again. No Boil Pasta Lasagna - Think how EASY lasagna is to make now!

Although our family loves lasagna and I make it every couple months, I haven't boiled lasagna noodles in over fifteen years.

Back when I had three little ones under the age of 5, I learned a 'trick' to whipping up a pan of lasagna quickly and easily.  This made a huge difference in how often I'd throw together a pan of lasagna for dinner.  Eliminating the need to boil the pasta before layering the ingredients took this dish from a 30 minute prep time to about 5 minutes.

Instead of boiling the noodles before layering, you steam them in the pan while baking.

The photo on the left is the pan of lasagna layered and ready to go into the oven to bake for an hour after I do one more step.

See the turquoise glass on the edge of the picture?  There's the time-saver.


Layer your favorite lasagna recipe (whether or not you line your pans with foil is up to you.  I do for easier clean up) and just before baking, pour in about a cup of water all around the edge of your pan.

I don't measure, I just use a coffee cup, small glass or similar and pour in about 1 cup of water more or less.  I would say I error on the side of a little 'more' than less and sometimes it might be 1 1/4 cup but 1 cup is about right.  Now, using a piece of foil, completely cover the top of your lasagna pan, turning the foil under the edges and squeezing it to stay in place and form a seal.  Bake as usual per your recipe; usually 45-60 minutes at 350 degrees.  As your lasagna bakes, the noodles will cook.  Remove the foil during the last 5 minutes of baking and return to oven if you want to brown the top to a golden color.  Proceed as usual with letting your lasagna rest for 5-10 minutes to let it set up for easier cutting and serving.

 Ready to seal the top with foil and bake.

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December 27, 2013

Gateau Bon Bons (Yum! Almond Paste filled Cookies!)

A rounded little cookie with a yummy surprise in the center;  almond paste!  Think; marzipan.  I love anything almond so of course these are a favorite of mine as well.  In the past I've dipped them in red, green and left white.  This year I did just dark green, with candy sprinkles and a drizzle of glitter icing. 

Gateau 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

Almond Glaze:

1 c powdered sugar
1/2 t almond extract
drops of food color to make yellow, green, blue, purple or pink
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. Let set to harden or sprinkle decorator sprinkles or sugar on top if you wish when the icing is still wet.

This is two examples of what almond paste looks like;

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December 16, 2013

Homemade Peanut Butter Balls (Buckeyes but I covered the 'eye')

If you've read my blog around the holidays before, you may already know that I hate making chocolate dipped... anything.  I find it a mind numbing, boring process and usually end up finding creative ways to make the food item into something 'else' that doesn't involve dipping. Like... when I made peanut butter 'patties' in 2008 instead of balls because they were just that much faster to dip!

Or when I got even lazier and poured a layer of chocolate, topped it with the peanut butter center, spread smooth and poured on another layer of chocolate before cutting them because this way I didn't have to dip anything!

But this year... I did it.  I did the dip.  That's how much I love my family.  And yes... they were thrilled.  And many were 'snitched' before dipping, during dipping and after dipping.  I didn't mind though!  I'm just happy they are so appreciative of my baking.

Peanut Butter Balls or Buckeyes

1/2 c creamy peanut butter
1/4 c real butter, room temperature
3/4 - 1 t vanilla extract
2 c powdered sugar
1 c semisweet chocolate chips mixed with 1 c milk chocolate chips**
1 T shortening or paraffin

Mix the butter, peanut butter and vanilla; add the powdered sugar and blend.  Form into 1" balls and chill or freeze.  Melt the chocolate chips and shortening in the microwave or stove, double boiler method until smooth, stirring regularly. Dip the balls, one at a time into the chocolate. Place on a cookie sheet lined with foil. Refrigerate until firm.  I melted a little bit of white chocolate to drizzle on top and placed them in mini cupcake liners as 75% of these will be going on a goody tray for my husbands place of employment. 

*Note:  to make balls, dip all the way and cover any holes or marks with a bit of melted chocolate to seal.  If making traditional buckeyes, you dip 3/4 of the way but leave the small peanut butter circle showing on top to resemble the Buckeye seed from the Buckeye tree.

**You can also use chocolate almond bark or chocolate wafer candies instead of chocolate chips.  Use what you have local or what you like to work with best.

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A Cookie a Day Until Christmas... Glittery Snowflake Cookies

Snapped a picture on my phone as I was starting to decorate the glittery snowflake cookies this weekend.  You can find the recipes on my Cookie a Day Til Christmas page or search for recipes in the search box to the right.

You might be interested in edible, food grade glitter:


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Quick and Easy Cabbage Salad

Although it's the holiday season and I want to keep Christmas cookies and baking in the 'top slot' of my page, there are other recipes I've made and like well enough to store in my blog-files for my kids to use as well as my own quick future reference.  You can still easily search for hundreds of cookie recipes using the search to the right - or the "Cookie a Day" link above.

This however, is a good old fashioned recipe for an alternative cabbage salad when you don't want to make the usual coleslaw with a mayonnaise based dressing.  I used a 1/2 head of fresh cabbage I had in the refrigerator I wanted to use up, but if you opt for a store bought bag of cabbage that is fine too of course.  I love this simple salad.  I had it for lunch and with my dinner for 2 days in a row!

Cabbage Salad

1/2 head cabbage
1 small onion (I like to use 1/2 of a large 'sweet' yellow onion as they are more mild)
3 T oil of your choice
2 T sugar or sugar substitute
3 whole carrots
3 sticks celery
2 T vinegar
A few cranks of fresh cracked black pepper - optional

Grate the vegetables or put them all through your processor.  Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and chill for at least 2 hours to let the flavors mix. If you use a bagged, pre-shredded cabbage mix, obviously just dump it in the bowl - don't run it through your processor as it will become mush.

Quick and easy to run everything through the processor

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December 04, 2013

A Cookie a Day Til Christmas: Melted Snowman Cookies

A Cookie A Day 'Til Christmas Link HERE.

How do you tackle the holiday baking when you bake for an average of 100 people?   Baby Steps!  (And a big freezer!).

Today I made homemade fondant and rolled the little heads that will be used for my Melted Snowman Cookies. SO cute and they are always a hit with people.  I have 2 dozen cookie recipes and photos here:  A COOKIE A DAY TIL CHRISTMAS.

You might be interested in this TOY kitchen Melissa and Doug playset for the "littles' or cookie pans or cutters!

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November 30, 2013

A Cookie A Day Until Christmas!

A Cookie A Day 'Til Christmas Link HERE.

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November 29, 2013

Use up that leftover turkey! Turkey Pot Pie

You can see how flaky and tender the biscuit crust is!

A recipe I started making in 1996 and haven't found we like better yet to date.  A great way to use up leftover turkey from Thanksgiving!  I will make this and then freeze the rest of the leftover turkey to make something in about 2 weeks.  We aren't big turkey fans so too much turkey within a week or two is just too much!  This recipe however is 'gobbled' up immediately.  (Sorry, couldn't resist). 

Turkey Pot Pie

1 10 oz. package mixed carrots and pea's (or assorted veggies)
1/4 c butter
5 T flour
1/2 t salt
1/4 t poultry seasoning or sage
1/8 t pepper
2 c chicken or turkey stock (or use 2 cups water and 2-3 boullion cubes)
1 c milk
3 c leftover cooked and diced chicken or turkey
1/3 c chopped onion or 4 green onions, chopped and cooked tender in a bit of water
1 c cooked and diced potatoes (or use canned or dice and cook them with the onions)

Prepare the pea's and carrots (or mixed veggies). I like to cook them in the microwave while I prepare the rest. Melt butter in saucepan. Blend in flour, salt, poultry seasoning or sage, and pepper. Gradually add stock and milk. Cook and stir over medium heat until thick and smooth. Add vegetables, turkey and cooked onions and potatoes. Pour into a greased shallow baking dish. Make a biscuit topping and top the vegetable mixture. Bake at 425 degree's for 25 minutes until the top is golden brown. About 6 servings.

Biscuit Topping;

1 1/3 c flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt

Cut in
2 T butter
3 T shortening

Add 1/2 c milk (scant) and stir with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. If it's too wet and sticky add one or two more tablespoons of flour. Pat down on a lightly floured surface and roll out to the shape of your baking dish. If you prefer you can cut into wedges or squares and simply top the vegetable mixture that way too. (Up to you!).

The hot vegetable mixture
before the biscuit topping is put on

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November 22, 2013

3 Layer Pumpkin Bars - (sugar free option available)

This time of year I crave pumpkin.  Cinnamon and spice infused pumpkin... anything.  Breads, bars, pound cakes, pancakes, lattes...   Last night I decided I really needed to use up the 1/2 can of pumpkin I had leftover in the refrigerator from another recipe.  I decided on these bars because I had a random yellow cake mix in the pantry as well as a 2nd can of pumpkin.  It comes together so quickly because you bake all three layers at the same time.

I made my version sugar free since my cake mix was sugar free and I used Ideal Brown Sugar Substitute for the filling and Just Like Sugar for the white sugar in the topping.  I will link to those products at the end of the recipe if you are interested.  Otherwise, this is just another 'Grandma' style recipe from the heartland of the USA where I grew up!

Triple Layer Pumpkin Bars

1 yellow cake mix, divided. Save 1 cup out for top.
1/2 c real butter
1 egg

2 eggs
3/4 c milk
20 oz. pumpkin
1/2 c brown sugar
1 t vanilla - liquid or powder
2 t pumpkin pie spices

1 cup of the dry cake mix reserved from bottom layer
1/4 c sugar
1 t cinnamon
1/4 c butter

Combine the bottom layer ingredients; dry cake mix, butter and egg.  Press into a 9X13" pan or the equivalent sized pan.  I used 10X10.  Mix together the filling ingredients by hand, whisk or electric.  When blended smooth spread over the bottom layer.  Mix together the reserved 1 cup dry cake mix with the sugar, cinnamon and butter.  When crumbly, sprinkle over the top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.  Cool completely and preferably chill before cutting. 

Press the bottom layer in a pan

Add the filling on top

Make the crumble topping

Ready to go into the oven to bake

You might be interested in sugar free products;


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November 21, 2013

For Thanksgiving or Christmas; a bright and beautiful (and yummy) salad - Spinach Salad with Craisins and Feta

Spinach Salad with craisins and feta before I add the balsamic vinaigrette just before serving

This is a re-post regular readers might remember, but I'm reposting not only because it's one of my favorite side salads, but hello... it is Thanksgiving next week and wouldn't be this be a beautiful salad option for the meal!?  I think so but maybe that is my love (and craving) of feta cheese and the crunch of the almonds in this dish.  It's an obvious favorite for Christmas as well with the festive and brilliant red and greens!

Spinach Salad with Craisins and Feta

1 package or desired amount of fresh baby spinach leaves
Feta Cheese, crumbled
1/2 c Craisins (**or consider other flavored of dried berries!  I've used pomegranates and fresh strawberries in the past) 
Balsamic dressing of your choice (original, creamy, raspberry, pomegranate, etc.)
Pecans or toasted, sugared almonds, chopped

*other dried fruits - consider blueberry, pomegranate, cherry (or cranberry w/ cherry)

Start with a bowl or serving plate of desired amount of spinach leaves.  Sprinkle on feta and dried fruit and nuts according to how it looks and how much you desire.   See my photo above for the amounts that I like to add.   Just before serving drizzle with the dressing. 

Start with with fresh spinach



To quickly make sugared almonds, add about a 1/2 cup sugar to 1 cup chopped almonds in a medium hot pan
Stir the almonds continuously while cooking until the sugar melts and caramelizes

Place the almonds on buttered foil and break apart and let cool

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November 20, 2013

Repost from last year: PUMPKIN CINNAMON ROLLS! Yum!

Ready to go into the oven!

About a month ago I started to crave pumpkin.  However, we didn't have any so my craving just grew in intensity.   Finally, I bought two large 32 oz. (?) cans - the big ones - and I started to put pumpkin in everything.  I started with pumpkin bars of course, but went on to make more pumpkin pasta, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cupcakes.

My latest 'pumpkin' inspired recipe was deciding to add it to my homemade cinnamon rolls.  I made a large double batch so it made two (2) 9X13" pans.  This way I already have Christmas morning breakfast in the freezer and ready to simply take out on Christmas Eve and let them raise in the pan in the refrigerator for a delicious breakfast for our entire family that takes no time whatsoever!

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

1/2 c water
1/2 c milk
1/4 c butter
1/2 c brown sugar
1 t salt
1 t vanilla
1 1/3 c pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling, just pumpkin)
1/2 c warm/barely hot tap water
2 pkg. yeast (or about 4 1/2 teaspoons)
2 eggs
7 c flour
2 t cinnamon
1 3/4 c brown sugar
1 T cinnamon
1 t powdered vanilla (optional if you have it)
1 1/2 sticks butter (about 3/4 c)

In a microwavable bowl, place the water, milk, butter, brown sugar, salt and vanilla.  Microwave for a minute or two until melted.  Add the pumpkin and stir or whisk smooth.  In a mixing bowl pour the warm tap water and add the yeast.  As soon as it's foamy, add the 2 eggs and the pumpkin mixture.  Mix just until blended.

Add about 5-6 cups of the flour and the 2 t cinnamon.  Using your bread dough hook, mixing and kneading.  (I often make my dough in the bread machine as well;  just use your 'dough' setting).  As soon as the flour is incorporated, add the last 1 1/2 cups (or so) until your dough is no longer sticky.  When it is forming a nice ball and isn't sticking, let it machine knead about 4-5 minutes more or take it out and knead it by hand.  Let it rise in the bowl under plastic wrap until doubled in size.  Punch down.  Divide in half.

Mix the last brown sugar, cinnamon, powdered vanilla (if you have it) and butter.  Mix with your fingers (or cut in with two forks) until crumbly.  

Roll out the half dough ball to a large rectangle.  When it's roughly about 12 inches by 16 inches, spread half the topping mixture over it.  Starting with the longer 16 inch side, roll it up and squeeze the end to form a log.  Use a sharp knife or utensil to cut equal slices.  You slice them as thin as 1 inch or as thick as 2-3 inches.  It depends on how thick you like them and how many you need to make!  I like them about 1 1/2" side and get about 12 of them this way.  Place in  a greased baking pan (anything around 9X13" size works fine).  Cover with a piece of plastic wrap and let them double in size.  Bake at 375 (ish) around 20 minutes.  They will be golden brown and bubbling.  Let the rolls cool for at least 7-10 minutes before adding icing if you wish to top them.  Can be served as they are or with an icing recipe or even store bought frosting.

Easy Icing:
Start with 1 to 1 1/2 c powdered sugar. Add 2 T soft butter and about 1 tablespoon heavy cream. Turn on the mixer and mix until completely smooth. If it's too thick add more cream (or milk) but only 1 teaspoon at a time as you don't want to add too much and have 'soup'. Frost the rolls and serve warm.

Related products available through Amazon:
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