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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