December 26, 2018

Homemade Ravioli - Cheese Filled but lots of other options! (Homemade Noodles too!)

This morning a friend commented she was hoping to make ravioli today, and once she said the word ravioli I couldn't get it out of my head.  I immediately was craving homemade cheese filled ravioli with an alfredo sauce, crumbled bacon and smoked provolone. 

So, that's what we're having for dinner tonight!

I actually remembered to grab my iphone and snap a couple pictures while I was making it.  Regular readers around these parts know I usually forget or just don't feel like taking pictures, so I don't.  Ha ha. 

The pasta recipe is adaptable - and it's one I've posted on An American Housewife many times before.  Use the basic flour, eggs and a bit of oil.  A little more flour or a little water to bring the dough together.  You can add things like jalapenos, spinach, etc. to the dough but today I went with a plain pasta except I added about 1/2 cup fresh ground whole wheat flour to my dough.

Homemade Pasta

2 1/4 c flour
1 t salt
1-2 t olive oil
3-4 eggs

In a food processor bowl, place the salt and flour. 
Put the top on and while pulsing or running on low, add a teaspoon-ish of oil and start adding eggs.  You probably only need 3 eggs if they are typical 'large' eggs so start with that.  Process/pulse just until the dough forms a ball shape.  If it hasn't gathered itself in a ball by the 3rd egg, you can add another teaspoon of oil or water or use a 4th egg.  Water or additional flour by the teaspoon will give you the texture you need for it to be a ball if it's too wet.

Let it rest 10 minutes.  Then either roll very, very thin with a rolling pin or use a pasta machine (my preference). Some people have a pasta making attachment on their mixers (like a KitchenAid, etc but I do not.)  I use a manual, hand crank pasta machine and starting with number 1, I run it through to a number 4.  You can then cut into thin noodles or use wide sheets to make homemade ravioli.

For tonight's ravioli I grabbed 4 oz. of cream cheese and just tossed in a few other cheeses we had on hand.  Today it was a bit of pepper jack, mozzarella and a bit of an Irish hard cheese similar to Parmesan.  Warmed in the microwave, stirred to mix and then by teaspoon full into the rounds of ravioli.

The extra dough was made into noodles.  I used the manual pasta maker but you can use a knife or pizza cutter to slice 1/2" wide noodles from your dough.  Toss into boiling water right away, or let them dry a bit and freeze for another day.  They only take about 3-4 minutes to cook for noodles and about 5 minutes at a rolling simmer for ravioli.  Drain and serve as you wish.

Just a quick photo as I was making the pasta.  I bought this manual pasta machine about 23 (?) years ago.  It's made in Italy and is heavy and sturdy and I love it!  It came with the ravioli mold at the time but I've made ravioli many times without it.  Just lay your pasta down, top fillings every 2 inches.  Lay another sheet on top and press around each round to seal, then slice to cut apart.  Although this mold does make it easier.  I'll see if I can find one on Amazon to link to at the bottom of this post when I'm finished writing it.

Just a simple filling of various cheeses today.  I often add some garlic, jalapenos, crumbled bacon... just cheese today. 

To seal with a ravioli maker you just roll a rolling pin over and press lightly on the raised edges.

Ready to pop them out!

At first this photo throws you off a bit!  But it's right side up.  I wanted to show what the bottom of the ravioli mold looks like with the cheese filling them and getting ready to flip it upside down and pop them out.

Popped out on a tray to wait for me to drop them into boiling water.  When it comes to a boil again, turn it down to a simmer and let them cook just about 4-5 minutes.  Serve with your favorite sauce or just butter, salt and pepper.

Tonight we are having alfredo sauce on them with crumbled bacon and grated smoked provolone.

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December 25, 2018

Low Carb, Sugar Free Waffles! A dry mix to keep in your pantry to make as you wish

This is a healthier waffle we normally have on hand - in a Ziploc baggy in the pantry for quick and easy hot breakfasts whenever the mood hits.  I'm leaving my original recipe below - but I substitute ALL THE TIME based on what I have on hand.  I don't always have or use oat bran; sometimes I don't wheat germ.  Although I usually have vital wheat gluten on hand, I've left it out.  If you need gluten free, you can leave it out.  The only difference I've found is the waffles aren't as... sturdy?  They are more fragile and tend to break apart easier perhaps.  But it's still a waffle!  And when you are eating low carb and sugar free, being able to have a 'waffle' or 'pancake' is amazing when you are tired of items like eggs for breakfast.  Be sure to use a sugar free syrup of course but honestly, these are good as a Belgian Waffle with whipped cream instead of syrup too.

Waffle and Pancake Mix

2 c almond meal
1/2 c oat bran (I've also substituted Golden Flax Meal)
1 c vanilla flavored whey protein powder
2 T wheat bran flakes
2 T wheat germ
2 T vital wheat gluten
2 1/2 T baking powder
1 1/2 t salt

Blend ingredients in a food processor with a S blade.  Pulse a couple times until well blended.  Store in a Ziploc or other air tight container in the refrigerator or freezer.  Makes about 4 cups.  


Use 1 cup of your dry almond waffle mix
2 t sweetener
1/2 c half and half
1 egg beat with 1/4 c oil

Stir all together in a bowl while preheating your waffle iron.  Only stir until everything is moist, do not over stir.  Bake according to your waffle iron directions.  Serve with butter and sugar free syrup or cinnamon, sweetener, whipped cream, or whatever you wish!  This is going to average about 6 carbs per waffle when made with the oat bran but less if you substitute flax meal.

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December 21, 2018


Snowflake Cookies (double)
Stencil Cookies (double)
Peanut Blossoms (double)
Molasses Ginger Spice Cookies (triple)
Salted Nut Chews (double)
Cream Wafers (double? Triple?)
No Bake Fruitcake
Peppermint Meltaways (double)
Almond Bark Pretzels
Almond Truffles drizzled with White Chocolate (double)
Pretzel M&Ms
Homemade Twix Bars (double)
Angel Bars (like Homemade KitKats) (double)
Girl Scout Thin Mint CopyCats (double)
Russian Tea Cakes (double)
Cream Horn Pastries
Hungarian Kifle
French Macarons (quadrupled)
Red Velvet Cupcakes
Tree Cookies painted with snow frosting

Is there something else?  I'm forgetting?  Maybe.  LOL.  My brain is fried....

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December 14, 2018

My Favorite Beef Stew Recipe - Adapted for use in the Instant Pot Cooker

When I first started making this recipe I used the recipe that was made to simmer forever on the stove, into one I put in the crock pot/slow cooker.  Last night I adapted it for my Cosori Instant Pot Cooker as well.  This is because when I decided to make the beef and vegetable stew for dinner that evening, it was because I had diced meat pieces I wanted to use up but they were in the deep freezer.  Obviously frozen solid.  For tender bites of beef they need to cook slow and long... which wasn't an an option.

And then I thought "I'll just make it in the Instant Pot!"

So I did.

Play with this recipe on some of the ingredients - mainly the vegetables.  I actually bought a peas/carrots/corn veggie mixture specifically to make this recipe because we are *usually* lower carb so we don't keep potatoes, corn or peas on hand.  But... it's cold. And winter. And gray outside.  And darnit, a hearty beef stew on a cold winter day is just... comforting!

I didn't put mushrooms in this time.  No reason.  Just didn't feel like it.  Sometimes I dice up cabbage for this which I love!  But I didn't have cabbage in the house this week so... again, like I said; play with the recipe if you wish.

Beef and Vegetable Stew

3 c cubed, peeled potatoes
4 medium carrots, sliced
1 medium onion, cubed
2 lb. steak or other beef, cubed or cut to about 1" pieces
2 T oil
3 T flour
2 beef bouillon cubes
2 c water
1/4 c white vinegar
1/4 c ketchup
1 T prepared horseradish (I don't buy this but I have mild horseradish cream by Kraft (?) in the squeeze bottle)
1 T prepared mustard
1 T sugar
1 c peas
1 c corn
1 c fresh sliced mushrooms

In the instant pot, place the oil and use the 'saute' menu option.  Add the beef and brown it. (I put mine in frozen, straight form the freezer and broke it apart as it browned and thawed.)

When the beef is mostly browned and has color, sprinkle on the flour and stir a bit.  Add the beef broth (or 2 beef bouillon cubes with 2 cups water) and seal the instant pot.  I set the pot to cook on the 'meat' button setting.  Then quick released the steam to open the lid; add the potatoes, carrots (if you are using fresh sliced, which are harder than packaged, frozen) and fresh chopped onions.

Either in a bowl OR just add it to the pot; stir in the vinegar, ketchup, horseradish cream (if you are using), mustard and sugar.  Cover, seal and cook on 'soup' or 'stew' setting.

Quick release, add the peas, corn, and mushrooms.  You can add another 1/2 cup water if you need/want to.  If you need to serve immediately, set it for a short cook time like 8 minutes.  If you don't need to serve right away, seal it and use the 'slow cook' button so it cooks like a crock pot/slow cooker until you need it.

I served with fresh baked homemade rolls.

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December 13, 2018

Salted Nut Chews (Salted Nut Bars, Salted Nut Roll Bars)

Originally my bottom crust was completely made from scratch but later, I used the 'crust' part of my sister-in-laws version, which used a yellow cake mix.  Although I don't love the taste of store bought cake mixes, I did love how quick and easy these came together when making it that way!

In the end I almost always opt for this version of the crust - although I still play around with the filling because the original recipe called for a 12 ounce bag of peanut butter chips, but you know how companies love to 'downsize' their products while raising the prices!  Sure enough, they later started to make the packages of peanut butter chips in 10 ounce sized.  That's when I started to use a scoop of real peanut butter in my filling (among other little things I tweak as I feel like it).

So here is a basic recipe using the cake mix crust because it's a great crust - but I'll publish my really old 'other' bottom crust version below as well. 

Salted Nut Chews

1 yellow cake mix - dry
1/3 c butter, soft
1 egg
3 c mini marshmallows
2/3 c corn syrup
1/4 c butter
2 t vanilla
1- 10 oz. package peanut butter chips
1/3 cup smooth peanut butter (I just use a big spooned scoop out of the jar but I'm guessing it's around 1/3 cup)
2 c Rice Krispies (generic brands are fine!)
2 c salted dry roasted peanuts

Combine the dry cake mix with the butter and egg in a mixing bowl.  Press into a lightly sprayed 9X13 inch pan.  Bake at 350 about 13-15 minutes - you don't want it to be too brown or dry around the edges.  Remove from the oven and sprinkle the 3 cups of marshmallows on top of the crust.  Place it back into the oven for a few minutes until the marshmallows start to puff up.  Then remove and let cool while you make the topping layer.

In a saucepan, place the corn syrup, butter, vanilla and peanut butter chips - cook over a medium to medium low heat until melted.  Add the scoop of peanut butter and stir smooth.  Add the peanuts and cereal.  Spoon the topping over the marshmallows. Refrigerate or freeze until needed.

Years ago, before I started to use a yellow cake mix for the crust, I used this for the base:

3/4 cup butter
2/3 c brown sugar
2 egg yolks
1 t vanilla
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/4 t baking soda

Beat the butter and sugar with the egg yolks and vanilla.  Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl and add to the butter/sugar mixture.  Mix until blended and crumbly.  Press into a 9X13" pan and bake approximately 12 minutes; top with the marshmallows and bake another 3 minutes.  Continue with the recipe as above.

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December 08, 2018

Homemade Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies

I make these every year and have for so many years I don't even recall the first I made them.
I don't have a recipe wrote down anywhere as it's really just so simple, only has a couple ingredients and it's really just a quick 'taste' test to know if you like the amount of peppermint and that's about it.

The things I would mention that I've learned or tested through the past 20 years of making these would be this;
  • Good quality/good tasting chocolate.
  • Peppermint oil not a water based extract.
  • A scoop of shortening to thin out the chocolate a bit
  • Mix the chocolate chips for the best flavor
I've made these with almost every brand and kind of chocolate out there.  For cost effectiveness coupled with affordability and topped for the flavor - I primarily use Ghirardelli.

I mix milk chocolate with semi-sweet chocolate for the best flavor that our family prefers.
A spoonful of Crisco shortening will help your chocolate melt smooth and not be too thick, yet won't affect the drying and hardening of the chocolate.  For 'new' bakers out there - don't add water to thin your chocolate!  It will make it seize up.  You need to use oil based everything in working with melted chocolate.

Faux Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies

Ritz Crackers
Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips and/or Milk Chocolate Chips
Peppermint Oil flavoring (more intense than extract)
A scoop of Crisco shortening

Amounts are completely up to you based on how many you want to make.

Start with the chocolate chips and either melt in the microwave, stirring often, or a double boiler method.
Stir in a spoonful or two of shortening.  I use about a tablespoon per 2 cups chips.  Give or take.
When melted, add your peppermint flavor.  Remember you want it to be a little strong, like Girl Scout Cookies are; but not too strong!  
Stir in about 1/4 t of peppermint oil to start. Add by drops until you get a strong, delicious taste you like. Stronger is better than weaker but don't trust your taste buds after the first taste or two, employ a 'helper' to dip a cracker and do a taste test.) I use LorAnn Peppermint Oil.

Work quickly so your chocolate doesn't set up while you are dipping, or keep it warming in a bowl or pan over another pan of hot water (double boiler style). You can get about 1 sleeve of crackers dipped with about 6-8 oz. chocolate chips.

Using a fork, dip the Ritz crackers one by one to cover in the melted minty chocolate coating and let the excess drip off before laying on parchment paper, foil or wax paper. Let harden or if you are in a rush, refrigerate to harden.

Ok... for those of you who want the chocolate wafers - I found this recipe although I don't make the chocolate wafer style.

1 package chocolate fudge cake mix
3 tablespoons shortening
1/2 cup cake flour
1 egg
3 T water
nonstick cooking spray

Combine the cookie ingredients in a large bowl, adding the water a little bit at a time until it forms a dough. Cover and chill for 1-2 hours. On a lightly floured surface, roll out a portion of the dough very thin (about 1/16 " thick). Cut out 1 1/2 inch wafers using a scalloped cookie or biscuit cutter. If you do not have one, use a juice glass, the lid of a spice jar or even a clean cutter from your kids play-doh set if they have one! Bake for about 10 minutes until crisp but don't let them burn. Let them cool completely and then dip the same way as stated above. If you make the chocolate wafers you'll need about 2 1/2 - 3 bags of semi-sweet chocolate chips to cover all the wafers.

Can be frozen for storage.

This is my second batch of the day - using the same bowl obviously so it's messy.  But, dipping chocolates IS messy.  One of the many reasons I hate dipping chocolate anything.

Freshly dipped.  Now let them set a couple hours and they will harden and be perfect!

Use a good quality peppermint oil - not a water based extract.  Water will make your chocolate seize up and get hard - you'll have to throw it out as you can't use seized chocolate for dipping!

I hate chocolate.
I hate dipping chocolate.
But I love my family.
And my family loves chocolate.

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December 07, 2018

Peppermint Meltaway Cookies with Crushed Candy Cane

The first batch are white on white with crushed peppermint candies

Peppermint Meltaways
1 c butter
1/2 c powdered sugar
1/2 c cornstarch
1/2 t peppermint extract
1 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 c powdered sugar
2 T butter
1/4 t peppermint extract
1 - 2 T milk
peppermint candies or candy canes, crushed

Combine butter and powdered sugar in a bowl and beat smooth.  Add the rest of the ingredients, beat well.  You can either divide the dough into fourths and roll each into a log about 1 inch in diameter, wrap in plastic wrap and chill, or place all the dough to chill for about 30 - 60 minutes.  If you chose to roll the dough into logs, slice each log into rounds, about 1/8" thick.  If you chose to chill the dough whole, shape rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into 1 inch balls.  Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake at 350 approximately 12-14 minutes.  Remove to cool completely.  Make glaze by combining the ingredients except the candy.  Use only enough milk to make it spreading consistency.  While wet, sprinkle with crushed candies.  Let harden.

The second batch were tinted red with white glaze and peppermint candies

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Keebler Bars - Angel Bars - Kit Kat Bars (everyone knows them by different names)

I've posted what we call "Angel Bars" and have made regularly since about 1999 or 2000 - but what I'm not sure I've mentioned is that it's not the recipe I originally made.  I made these the first time using butterscotch chips in them as well, and I didn't care for the 'fake' flavor of butterscotch chips (but I'm picky like that), so I ended up tweaking the recipe until it was the one we have loved and used for about 15 years now.  However, I realize many people may like the original version that includes the butterscotch chips.  So this morning, here is the original version of our 'Angel Bars' that some people think tastes similar to a Kit Kat.  I don't.  But these are a FAVORITE bar in our family.

Update to add:  for 2018 I made a huge double batch of these only to have my husband eat two ROWS of bars the first night!  It's a good thing I start to do my holiday baking 'early' because this allows me to make a 3rd batch for the cookie trays before Christmas giving.

Angel Bars - also known as Keebler Bars (or some call Homemade Kit Kat Bars)

80 club crackers
1 cup butter
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1/2 cup butterscotch morsels

Line an ungreased 9X13-inch baking pan with foil, leaving an extension of foil on either end. Line the foil with 1 layer of club crackers, breaking to fit if necessary.

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, milk and sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and spread half of butter mixture evenly over crackers. Place another single layer of crackers evenly over butter mixture, cutting to fit if necessary. Spread remaining butter mixture evenly over crackers. Top evenly with remaining crackers.

In a small microwavable dish or in a saucepan, combine peanut butter, chocolate morsels, and butterscotch morsels. Melt in the microwave or over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. Spread evenly over top of crackers. Cover, and chill for at least 1 hour. Lift foil overhang and remove bars from pan. Cut into bars. Store in the refrigerator.

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December 06, 2018

A Cookie A Day Until Christmas: Homemade Chocolate Truffles

I should probably post some new photos as I make these truffles every single Christmas (and a few times more during the year) - if you've gotten this recipe from me before in previous posts you recognize the photos.  These are so incredibly easy and so delicious!  In fact, so quick and so easy both my girls have made these themselves since they were early teens.  These in the photos were actually made by my 17 year old at the time - she needed very little help from Mom and managed to pull off some beautiful dessert truffles, which we packaged using (recycling) a "chocolate candies" box from Harry & David we had at the house but I'll link to some from Amazon at the bottom of this post too.

You can change the flavor of your truffles by using other extracts/oils to whatever taste you prefer.

Almond Truffles

1/2 c evaporated milk
1/4 c sugar
2 cups milk chocolate chips
1/2 t almond extract
1 c finely chopped toasted almonds
OR 1 cup melted chocolate almond bark for dipping (or extra chocolate chips)
and melted white almond bark for drizzling

Combine evaporated milk and sugar in small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a full boil. Boil 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in chips and almond extract, stirring gently until smooth. Chill mixture about 45 minutes until it can easily be shaped into balls. Roll into the crushed nuts or dip in melted chocolate. Drizzle or sprinkle with nuts if desired. Chill until ready to serve.

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December 04, 2018

A Cookie a Day Until Christmas: The Best Ginger Molasses Cookies

This is my master mix - a triple batch, that makes 3 dry mixes you can put into a storage container or ziploc, and quickly mix these up when you need them or you could make the whole triple batch in one day of course.  They are such an incredibly delicious cookie!  They're a bit addictive!

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 evenly 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;
To one of your dry, 3 cup mixes, add;

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

Roll into 1 inch balls and roll in plain white granulated sugar. Place on a greased or 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.

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November 26, 2018

A Cookie A Day Until Christmas: Graham Cracker Marshmallow Fruitcake Bars (No Bake)

I was 'gifted' these fruitcake bars on a plate with various other cookies and candies by a co-worker at my job, years and year (and years) ago.  I would have been about 21 years old at the time and although my husband and I enjoyed tasting the other goodies, neither of us wanted to taste the 'fruitcake' bars because neither of us liked fruitcake.  Finally, I relented and picked it up to smell it and then taste it.  Whoa!  This isn't fruitcake!  This isn't even remotely similar to fruitcake at all.  It was so good that I later had to ask my co-worker, (who became a dear, dear friend) for the recipe.

That was back around 1991 and I've been making this recipe ever since.  That dear friend passed away from breast cancer a few years ago and although I think of her a few times during the year for random reasons, it's without a doubt that she comes to mind every single year when I make these bars.

Not at ALL like fruitcake except they use candied fruit and nuts; it's a graham cracker and marshmallow base and once people get over the 'fruitcake' connotation, these bars fly off the serving plate.

No Bake Fruitcake Bars

1 lb. butter*
1 lb. mini marshmallows
3/4 c evaporated milk
1 lb. pecans
1/2 lb. walnuts
1/2 lb. whole green candied cherries
1/2 lb. whole red candied cherries
1 lb. raisins
1 lb. graham cracker crumbs

Melt the butter, marshmallows and evaporated milk in a pan on the stove over low to medium heat.  In a very large bowl mix the rest of the ingredients.  Add the melted marshmallow mixture.  Stir and mix well.  Press into a greased or foil lined 9X13" pan.  Press flat and freeze or refrigerate overnight.  Thaw a bit before slicing to make it easier.  Slice into 3 long sections or rows and slice each row into thin slices to serve.

**I've been using a little less butter over the past few years (perhaps 3 1/4 sticks instead of 4) and it's been perfectly fine.  Feel free to cut back a bit on the butter if you want to try it that way.  You can also change the amounts of the nuts, raisins and cherries, etc. I've used craisins some years, and doubled the red cherries and halved the green cherries, etc.  You can play with this recipe a bit.  

Pressed into the pan, ready to go into the freezer until needed.

An easy way to press into the pan is to use a piece of plastic wrap on the top and then press or roll it flat.

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November 23, 2018

A Cookie A Day Until Christmas! Mexican Wedding Cakes - or Russian Tea Cakes

This cookie is one I've been making for too many years to count.  Originally I made it because it sounded interesting to me due to the use of only a few ingredients; including ground up nuts and very little sugar. After they were made I recognized them!  It was a cookie I had tasted and loved previously, given to me by one of my neighbors in our little cookie exchange baskets.  (Our neighborhood at the time had about 4 or 5 of us that would walk around and deliver goodies to everyone as a Christmas 'hello'). 

It's a small, round cookie that looks like a little snowball.  It's dry, crunchy and isn't too sweet, but just right.  Great with coffee and good for people who like walnuts and/or pecans.  A lot of 'older' folk like this cookie. 

Russian Tea Cakes
Mexican Wedding Cakes

1 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 c powdered or confectioner's sugar
1 t vanilla
2 1/4 c flour
3/4 c finely chopped nuts (typically walnuts but also consider pecans or almonds)
1/4 t salt
more powdered sugar for rolling

Preheat oven to 375. Mix butter, powdered sugar and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Stir in flour, nuts and salt. Shape into 1 inch balls. Bake 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheet for about 10-12 minutes. They should not brown. Remove from cookie sheet. Cool slightly and then roll in powdered sugar and let cool. Roll a second time. Can freeze for later use. 

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November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving! Traditional Pecan Pie and Blueberry Pie!

Happy Thanksgiving to my readers and my family!  Yesterday I made the pies for today and this year, we are just having 2 pies and neither are pumpkin.  We are not hosting a large gathering, so two pies are sufficient and I went with two kinds that everyone loves; pecan and blueberry. 

As a matter of fact, my future son-in-law apparently only likes my pecan pie - which is surprising because there isn't anything special about it.  It's about as traditional 'made like great grandma used to make' as you can get.  But last year there was a store bought pie and my pie both brought to one of their Thanksgiving get-togethers with friends and he and another guy ate the entire pecan pie I had made.  They had one bite of the store bought and pushed it aside.  I would have thought they would taste the same?  Apparently not.

And my youngest daughter's favorite pies are apple or blueberry.  I had a huge bag of frozen blueberries in the freezer so... blueberry it was!

Easy as pie....

Pecan Pie

1 - 9" unbaked pie crust (homemade or store bought)
1 c light corn syrup
1 c brown sugar
4 eggs
1/3 c butter
dash of salt
1 t vanilla
1 1/2 c pecans (more or less)

Preheat the oven to 350. In a bowl combine the corn syrup, sugar, eggs, butter, salt and vanilla. Mix well. Pour filling in the crust and position the pecan halves around the pie in rows until you finish with one pecan half in the center. Bake in a gas oven approximately 50 minutes and in an electric oven about 1 1/4 hours. You can cover with foil if it is getting too brown on the edges for your tastes. 


3 pints blueberries - either fresh, cleaned and stems removed or frozen
2 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 c all purpose flour
1/2 c sugar (I use a mixture of brown and white)
1/4 t cinnamon
2 T butter, cut up
dash of vanilla
A double pie crust

Mix the blueberries, lemon juice, flour, sugar and cinnamon together in a large bowl and then place in the bottom crust. Top with the cut up butter and then carefully place the top crust over and crimp or use a fork to seal the edges. Slice a pretty star shape on the top with a knife or fork to let steam escape. Optional:  to sprinkle the top with sugar and/or cinnamon.  Bake at 425 for 20 minutes and then lower the temperature to 350 for another 30-40 minutes.  Cool.

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November 20, 2018

Carrying on Family Tradition - Thanksgiving Mini Candy 'Dinner' Cupcakes

Soooo many years ago (18 I think?) I started to make Thanksgiving cupcakes that looked like tiny Thanksgiving dinners.  I've posted about them here on An American Housewife many times over the years but they are a tradition in our family.

The cupcakes are decorated with a cookie that doubles as a 'plate' and bits of frosting, sprinkles, jimmies and candy are used to make a complete 'meal' of turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberries and either green beans or peas (depending on what candies you choose that year).

I'm thrilled to see that as my kids are growing up and leaving the nest, they are continuing our family traditions.  My oldest daughter sent me these pictures yesterday of the mini Thanksgiving Cupcakes she made to hand out to her little boys preschool class and for daycare and teachers.


I've posted this 'recipe' for years - here is a copy of one of the posts from my archives

  • 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 bought the long shapes and called them 'green beans'
  • caramels, melted or chocolate chips or butterscotch chips for 'gravy'
  • a package of cookies with an 'edge' - 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 caramels, 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'.

You can slice the top off the cupcakes
if you filled them 3/4 full and they have
a little peak. This will let the 'plate'
evenly on the top of it.

I have made these too many times to count - as they are a tradition in our home *most* Thanksgivings.
I've used all different sorts of cookies as the plate as you can see from yet another photo of the many versions
I've made over the past almost 25 years.

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November 16, 2018

2018 Version - MACARONS

The holiday baking has begun here at the home of An American Housewife.  This early on, I only start with things that can be safely frozen in the deep freeze for a couple weeks.  Yesterday I made up 4 batches of cut-out sugar cookie dough, 2 batches of peppermint melt-away cookie dough and 3 batches of molasses cookie mixes.  All are just chilling in the refrigerator to bake (maybe tomorrow?).

Today was almond macaron bake day!  I ended up doing 4 batches.  I decided to make them all red so it would be easier later on to fill and sandwich them. 

Almond Macarons

1 cup fine quality almond flour
2 cups powdered sugar
3 egg whites
1/4 t cream of tartar
dash of salt
1/4 c fine granulated sugar

Mix the confectioner's sugar and almond flour very well either by pulsing in a food processor until combined or using an electric stick blender or electric whisk, sifting it, etc. It should be mixed very well and quite fine.

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Whisk whites with a mixer on medium speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar and a dash of salt; and whisk until soft peaks form. Reduce speed to low, then add a drop or two of food color if you are using it, a drop or two of flavor extracts if you are using them, and the fine white sugar. Increase speed to high, and whisk until stiff peaks form. Sift flour mixture over whites, and fold until mixture is smooth and shiny.  Take your time folding and don't rush it or you will break down the beaten egg whites.

Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain round tip if you have one, or if not, leave the round 1/2 inch opening of the bag or the white plastic piece you would normally put a tip on, and pipe 3/4-inch rounds 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets.  If you remember, drag the pastry tip to the side of rounds rather than forming peaks (like you see in the photo above! Ha).

Tap bottom of each sheet on work surface to release trapped air. Let stand at room temperature for 15-20 minutes.
Bake 1 sheet at a time, rotating halfway through, until macarons are crisp and firm, about 18 minutes.

Let macarons cool on sheets for 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Sandwich 2 same-size macarons with 1 teaspoon filling of your choice. Serve immediately, or stack between layers of parchment, wrap in plastic, and freeze for up to 3 months.

Ready to add the almond flour/confectioner's sugar mixture...

Remember to get it nice and 'fine' by processing or sifting, etc. first.

Starting to fold it in... slowly.  Don't break down the egg whites.

Almost there!

Another random photo from my personal snapchat story to my family....  ha ha.

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