Friday, December 31, 2010

Cooke's Frontier Year In Review

My first New Year as a blogger! That's kind of exciting. While my blog isn't yet a year old, I have been seeing these "year in review" posts popping up all over the blog-o-sphere. Because I am not one to miss a chance to jump on the bandwagon, here is mine.

I hope you enjoy looking at all the posts from this year. If you are a newer reader it might be a chance to read some of the posts that you have yet to enjoy.

I started this blog with a post about Two kids, a milkshake and a morning. We briefly discussed my affinity for lying to people who knock upon my door. I found a great sale and bought so much fabric that I still have a trash bag floating around my house full of it. We talked about the DISGUSTING phenomenon that happens here every spring. I told the story of my butt getting glued to a toilet seat, followed closely by my children's sometime VERY foul mouths. I was pooped on by a bird while we were driving around one day, we got some baby chicks, we took an unfortunate road trip and I posted my first not-from-a-cellphone post.

We planted a garden, (it later died), posted my first recipe and showed you some disturbing images of my children eating. I tried to divorce the weather. I bought a new camera, but couldn't get it out of the post office, I made you look at pictures of my flowers while I learned how to use it. I had one of THOSE days. I taught you how to make my most favorite coconut cream pie, took some pictures of the girls, introduced you to my husbands' mistress and made my first top 10 list!

We built a deck, had a happy father's day, made a grasshopper pie, showed you how to use up leftovers in an amazing, easy sandwich, put some new trees in our yard and took the kids to wildlife safari (for the first of many times this year). I tried out a new recipe for an oatmeal pie, we celebrated the 4th of July and I made some killer coleslaw.

My twins had their 2nd birthday. I shared how to make some of my all time favorite foods: beef and black bean tacos, mexican rice, apple burritos, my favorite pizza crust and my famous zucchini cake. We took a trip to the ER. My oldest turned 6! I made cornbread and turned the leftovers into croutons. We undertook a major bathroom remodel (it still isn't done)!

I made pie, peach crisp and cheese bread. I did a 6 days of pumpkin recipes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. I smooshed two recipes together to get one new, hybrid one. I tried to get people to choose between blondies and brownies. I got to do a guest post for taste of home magazine about their cooking school. There were a plethora of recipes oatmeal apple muffins, double chocolate chip cookies, old fashioned caramel corn, caramel apples and oatmeal scotchies. We got ready for Halloween with homemade Halloween oreos, pumpkin cupcakes so easy the kids could make them, creepy bread sticks, ghost shaped homemade pop tarts, and spiderweb brownies.

We started getting ready for the holidays. I shared some great recipes for easy breakfasts for Thanksgiving like stuffed french toast, hash brown casserole and angel biscuits. We tried our hand at making a macadamia nut pie with coconut and it turned out so, so good. Then the Thanksgiving recipes started to roll in. Things like hot artichoke dip, golden dinner rolls  and who could forget the mile high peanut butter pie? Oh, I still have dreams about that one, I'm going to have to make it soon.

The lull between Thanksgiving and Christmas brought us recipes like sour cream apple pie, quick coffee cake, hokey pokies and delicious easy cheese danish. I tried to inspire you with  7 days worth of Christmas cookies 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. I shared my most favorite cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing. We had a cookie exchange! Someone ate the popcorn off the tree and we made some cute glittered ornaments. I wished you a very Merry Christmas. I took a blogging vacation over Christmas and decided that I am happy just how it is. I needed to make breakfast in a hurry and came up with these quick biscuit honey buns. And, finally, we got SNOW!!!

I have so much enjoyed blogging and sharing our little corner of the world with you all this year. I wish you all health, happiness and every joy in the coming new year. Enjoy some good food, drink a little drink and be safe! Much love to you all.

Charley

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Snow


We woke up to this today. It has been snowing on and off since Christmas. This is the little apple tree in my front yard. It looks pretty :)


There is something about the snow that makes me want to cook and bake like a madwoman. It must be some sort of primal instinct, the colder it gets the more food I tend to make.


Take today for instance. I woke up and the world outside looked like this. Doesn't that look cold???? My first thought was soup. I put a chicken in the pot with some carrots and an onion and it's simmering away. Pretty soon I'll strain the broth, shred the chicken and add it and more veggies to the pot. Just before it's time to eat I'll make the dumplings. But I didn't stop there, Ohhhhh no. I also made steel cut oats for breakfast (with apples, cinnamon and brown sugar), bread is raising for sandwich bread and rolls, a pie is in he works and I'm getting ready to make the flour tortillas so we can have bean burritos for lunch. It's a sickness.


Because it's cold outside and without that much food we might perish. What if I didn't have my extra layer of "insulation"? Trips to the woodpile would be far less comfortable!


Or maybe it's that the man that made these tracks works outside and gets really, really hungry when it's cold out.

Yea, that's it.

Chicken and Dumplings


1 (3 lb) chicken OR 3 lbs of pieces, your choice
1 onion, quartered
salt and pepper to taste
3 cups water
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons shortening
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water

1.In a heavy pot with a lid place the chicken, onion, salt, pepper, water, bay leaf and thyme. Simmer all over low heat until tender, about 1 hour.

2.Let chicken cool slightly in pot, then remove and take the meat off of the bones. Discard the bones and skin and skim excess fat off the broth if desired. Discard the onion, lemon and bay leaf. If desired, wash out pot well. Return broth and chicken pieces to the pot. Simmer over low heat while making the dumplings.

3.To Make Dumplings: In a medium mixing bowl, cut shortening into the flour and salt. Stir in 1/4 cup water (more if needed) to form a soft dough. Roll out dough on a floured surface, with a rolling pin, until very thin. Cut into 1 inch wide strips using a pizza cutter or knife. Tear off 1 inch long pieces from these strips and drop into simmering broth and chicken meat. Simmer for 10 minutes with the lid off, then 10 minutes more with the lid on. Serve immediately.



This is the one I use most often, but I usually simmer some carrots and celery in the pot with the chicken since you are essentially making the broth. Or, you could use store bought broth and skip the first step!



Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Quick Biscuit Honey Buns


I needed something quick for breakfast yesterday morning. I am going to go ahead and admit that I haven't been grocery shopping for a while. My excuse is that I want to eat up what's in the freezer and pantry shelves before the new year, but really I just don't want to deal with the crowds of people looking for after Christmas deals. Very social of me, I know.

So, using only the things I already had on hand, I came up with these. They are very quick, tasty and satisfying. Also, very adaptable to what you might have on hand, in case you are using up all of your pantry staples too ;)

Quick Biscuit Honey Buns

4 cups flour
8 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons sugar
1 cup shortening
1 1/3 cups milk
1/4 cup honey
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar

Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar together in a large bowl. Cut in shortening until it looks like coarse meal. Add the milk and stir until just mixed. Turn out onto floured counter top and knead 10 times. Pat into a rectangle shape and roll out pretty thin (1/4 inch or so). Sprinkle on the cinnamon and rub it into the dough. Drizzle the honey over the top and then evenly spread on the brown sugar. Starting at the long side, roll up and pinch the seam to seal. Cut into 1/2 inch pieces and lay, cut side down, on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Press them down with your hand (they should look like smooshed cinnamon rolls) and drizzle on a little more honey and sprinkle with brown sugar if desired.
Bake in a 450 degree oven with the rack in the middle of the oven, for about 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer them to a cooling rack and let cool 10 minutes.

Happy Baking!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Happiness

Hello everyone! How was Christmas? Ours was lovely, relatively stress free and wonderful. Did I mention we had a good Christmas? Oh, well that's good because we did :)

I (obviously) didn't post over our vacation and I had a lot of time to think about this here little bloggity blog. I decided that I love it. If I only had 2 people in the entire world reading it, I would still love it. I love it just the way it is. But, recently, I have had a couple people mention to me that they wish I would make more savory dishes and not so many sweets. I really had to think about this. I can cook, we eat something homemade almost every night and it is almost always very good.

But baking is my hobby, it's what I do for fun, it's what I do for relaxation. I started this blog as a way to have a creative outlet. Sharing my baking with you was what I chose to do. That's not to say that I won't ever post a savory recipe, because I certainly will be.

To me, baked goods are comfort. I want everyone who come to visit my blog be comfortable, like they are a guest in my own home. If you are a guest in my house, chances are that you are going to be offered a cookie, a piece of cake or a cinnamon roll. That's what I try to do here. I want to offer you the same comfort that I offer our guests and loved ones.

So, while I understand that goodies all the time are not good for you and that sometimes you just want something cheesy or spicy, for the most part this blog will continue to be just what it always has been: A look into my crazy life, with my crazy kids, in our crazy home with a few good recipes thrown in for good measure.

Going into the new year this is what I have to offer you: A good story, a laugh or two and a good recipe.

Because let's face it, sometimes you just need a cookie.



Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas to All


This Christmas, I wish you peace and joy.



I wish for time to slow down and for families to gather and celebrate together.



I hope the stars shine a little brighter and stay out a little longer.



I wish for goodwill and cheer among men.


These are my hopes and wishes for all of you!

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

O Christmas Tree


Our trees are never going to win any beauty pageants. We have small kids. they eat the ornaments, rip off the decorations and mess up the lights. That's ok with me though. I just sip a little drink, tilt my head to the right and squint through one eye and Voila! The tree is a beaut once again.

My post may be even more erratic in the next week. We have some dentist visits to take care of, Christmas stuff to do and a lot of baking. Did I mention that my husband is home on his first, real, week long vacation in over 3 years? We're pretty excited about that.

We're going to be doing some things with the kids, finishing out Christmas shopping and gift wrapping and just hanging out doing nothing. It's going to be fantastic, I can hardly wait!

I hope you will all understand about the posting and that you will still be here to read again when they become more consistent again. :)


Friday, December 17, 2010

Get Out The Glitter!

In the spirit of the holidays, I just couldn't do posts about kids crafts and goodies without using glitter. So, take a deep breath, get out the glue and glitter and be amazed at what your little ones can make!

Not only are these easy, they are going to make your tree sparkle and shine in the glow of the Christmas lights.

If your lucky, you will get enough glitter on your face for the lady at the post office to tell you how festive you look. It's true, they do that. I should know it happened to a *friend* of mine.

Here are today's Keep The Kids Busy Activities!


Here we have a simple star made out of craft sticks. I hot glued them together for the kids before they painted them with glue. We put the stars over a bowl and sprinkled on the glitter. I highly recommend doing both of these crafts in one day. Also, be sure that you do the stars first. I have a method to my madness. We used all kinds of colors of glitter, but when I went to take a picture, the only one not in the blaring sunlight was this one with clear glitter on. Use a couple colors (at least) of glitter so you have some variety on your tree.



Next, we have the glittered pine cone. If you followed my directions above for the glittered stars, you now have a bowl with multicolored glitter in the bottom. This is for the pine cones. I got a bag of 25 cinnamon scented pine cones from Michael's for $2.99. You can certainly use unscented, but I have to tell you how surprised I am at how good these smell! They are still smellin' up my house with their cinnamon-y goodness. So, I thinned a little glue with water, let the kids paint the tips of the pine cones and then dropped them into the bowl of glitter leftovers. We just shook them around a little bit and they covered up pretty easily.

And lastly, if you haven't already done it, a popcorn strand is the best activity for kids. Just string a needle with a long sting and pop a big bowl of popcorn. Tie a big knot at one end and start stringing. I always have one kid hold the knot and the other ones be "runners" for taking the popcorn down to the other end. I make 4 or 5 strands, about 6'-7' long instead of trying to do one really big one that will go around the whole tree in one piece.

Happy crafting!


Thursday, December 16, 2010

There's Some Mysterious Happenin's Round These Parts



I started to notice big spaces of empty string on our popcorn strand a couple days ago.



They are increasing in number daily.




At first I blamed the dog. She did, after all, eat most of the dried apple slices off of the lower branches.



Then, I got to thinking. Maybe it wasn't the dog after all.



I can't imagine what would be eating all the popcorn off the tree.



Unless maybe, just maybe....no it couldn't be that. My angels would never do something like that.

Ok, so maybe I caught them eating the popcorn off.

All day.

I still think they are angels.

Most of the time.


Simple Snowman Cupcakes


Christmas vacation is coming up. so I thought that I would do a few posts about easy thing to do with kids. These will be things that I do with my kids (ages 6, 4 & 2), but that can be easily adapted to work with older kids as well. It's a lot easier to let them be creative with the materials that you provide.

Today I thought I would start with these easy and cute snowman cupcakes. You will need:

24 cupcakes
Frosting
Chocolate chips
Orange candies (I used gum drops)

Ice your snowmen white. (Duh, right?) Give him chocolate chip eyes and mouth. Now he's looking very cute, isn't he? I took a gumdrop, laid it on some sugar and rolled it out thin with my rolling pin. I just cut carrot shaped noses out of it with scissors. Place your carrot nose and there ya go! Easy peasy.

This may seem really simple, and it is. But, I have small-ish kids and keeping them interested in a task until it is done can be hard unless they can see instant results. These cupcakes fit that bill. You  could change the candies and use M&M's, mini M&M's, mini chocolate chips, Junior mints for the noses, a jellybean for the nose. Really, anything you would like. You could also roll the frosted cupcakes in coconut to give them that "snowy" look.

So, like I said, here is the base idea. Use it, change it, make it your own. My only request is that you have fun doing it! :)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Gingerbread House!

As most of you know, I was given Wilton pre-baked gingerbread house kit to assemble and review for you. I was excited when I got the box and felt how heavy it was. I opened it up and was pretty pleased with the selection of candies, bags, tips and icing that came included with the gingerbread pieces.

Here is the Wilton Gingerbread Shop where they have several different types of gingerbread houses to choose from. Go take a look!
 
Looks good, right? Lots of stuff to choose from, directions (with pictures) of 3 different decorating options.

I was all set up, let the decorating Begin!

Here are the finished house pictures:



The front. I didn't follow the directions very well and kind of made up my house as I went along. I'm a rebel.


The roof line.


Side view.


Full side view. :)


Finished house.
 See those little fingers over there on the right? They are waiting for me to get done taking pictures so she could steal some candy. I've had to keep the house hidden so they wouldn't cannibalize it before I got any pictures taken of it.

All in all I was on the fence about this kit. It had some definite pros and cons.  I had to assemble the house, which was ok with me. It did have a couple issues (in my opinion at least). I don't think there was enough icing to do everything that the instructions tell you to do. I have some cake decorating experience and I had to improvise some of the decorating because there just wasn't enough icing mix to do everything they said you could do in the example pictures. The second issue it had was the one of the roof pieces was pretty crooked. It made putting the house together kind of hard and then trying to get the gap covered was difficult. We finally got what I would call a "good side" and decorated from there.

So, what's my final opinion on the kit? I don't think that for the price point ($39.99) I would purchase it. That being said, I am kind of cheap and I do think that there was a lot to offer with the kit. Honestly, though, for the price and the fact that it was a Wilton product, I would have expected it to be simple to put together for even the most novice of gingerbread house construction crews. The fact that some of the walls were crooked and that there wasn't enough icing to really decorate like they demonstrate would be very frustrating to most people.

Bottom line, I expected more from this than it delivered. However, I'm going to assume that my kit was a fluke and that most of them don't have the issues that mine did. I really want to give it a better review than this, because I LOVE Wilton products, but it simply wasn't up to the standards that I have come to expect from Wilton.

I have had really good success with their pre-assembled houses (I usually get one or two for the kids to decorate every year) and I think that from now on I'll just stick with those.

Wilton provided me with a kit to review and a kit to give away. As always, these opinions are mine.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Chocolate Crackled Cookies


I have been wanting to make this type of cookie for a long time now, and when I got it in a cookie countdown newsletter from Taste of Home, I immediately added them to my (growing) list of goodies to bake before Christmas gets here.

They were easy, the kids loved helping make them, they are tasty and I haven't had one person try them yet that hasn't been impressed. If you get a gift basket from me this year, these will be in it!

Chocolate Crackled Cookies

1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
2 eggs
6 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup mini chocolate chips
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Cream the brown sugar, shortening and vanilla in a bowl. Add eggs and mix really well. Add cocoa, flour, salt and baking soda. Mix until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. Scoop into 1 inch balls and roll in granulated sugar, followed by the powdered sugar. Place on a cookie sheet and bake 8-10 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

So good! Happy Baking!

It's Great To Be A Kid

(Flossing is very important when you are 3)

Happy 4th Birthday Lainee!

Today I have a cake to bake! A very special 4th Birthday cake. :)


A smile from me to you today!


Just act natural. LOL


This is my sweet, crazy, imaginative, caring, loving, slightly spoiled middle kid. Today is her birthday. She wants her day to be full of rainbows and sprinkles. How can you say no to that?

I will have some pictures up later of some of the baking I did this weekend.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Virtual Cookie Exchange Recipes

Here are all of the recipes that were sent in to me and the ones the recipes that I blogged about over cookie week. I want to thank everyone who sent in their recipe(s). It was fun!

Here are your 2010 Cooke's Frontier Virtual Cookie Exchange Recipes:



Sugar Cookies
from Taste of Home magazine
1 cup butter, softened
1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

In a large bowl, cream the butter, cream cheese and sugar.
Beat in egg and vanilla.
Combine the flour and salt; gradually beat into creamed mixture.
Cover and refrigerate the dough for 2 hours.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4-in. thickness.
Cut with a 3-3/4-in. x 2-1/2-in. cookie cutter dipped in flour (dough can be very sticky so this is imperative).

Place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets.
Bake at 375° for 8-10 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.
Remove to wire racks to cool. Yield: about 4 dozen.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/2 cups flour
 1 tsp baking powder
 1 tsp salt
 2 sticks butter
 3/4 brown sugar
 3/4 sugar
 1 tsp vanilla
 2 eggs
 2 cups chocolate chips

Mix butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla. Add eggs, mix well. Stir in Flour, baking powder and salt. Stir to combine, mix in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded tablespoons on a cookie sheet and
Bake at 375! (sometimes I even add a bag of Reese's Peanut Butter minis)


Ethel's Sugar Cookies
from older Betty Crocker Cookbooks

3/4 cup margarine

1 C sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla (they tell me you can use another flavor... but again... why mess with success??)
2 1/2 C Flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 eggs

Mix well. Refrigerate for at least one hour. Then, roll out and cut into shapes. Bake at 350. I pull mine out just before they turn brown, and glaze them immediately. I use a typical margarine, powdered sugar glaze. These freeze extremely well- I’ve found that the freezer is a pretty good hiding place!


Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

3/4 C Butter flavor Crisco

1 1/4 C firmly packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1/3 C milk
1 1/2 t vanilla
3 C quick oats, uncooked
1 C flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/4 t cinnamon
1 C raisins

Heat oven to 375. Either a) grease cookie sheets or b) line them with confectioners paper.
Combine Crisco, brown sugar, egg, milk, and vanilla. Beat until well blended. Separately combine oats, flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Mix into creamed mixture on low speed until blended. Stir in raisins.
Drop by rounded spoon fulls 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 mins or until lightly browned.
Makes about 2 dozen.

The Bonbon Cookie (or Cooky)
Betty Crocker Best Cook 1955-1960

1/2 cup butter or margarine

3/4 cup sifted confectioners sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla
Food Coloring (if desired)
1&1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/8 tsp. salt
fillings: candied or maraschino cherries, pitted dates, nuts, or chocolate pieces (i say chocolate all the way lol)

Bonbon icing (recipe below)

Toppings - chopped nuts, coconut, colored sugar

Mix butter, sugar, vanilla, and food coloring. Blend flour and salt in thoroughly with hand. If dough is dry ass 1 to 2 tbsp. cream.

Heat oven to 350. For each cooky (lol), wrap 1 level tablespoonful dough around suggested filling. Bake 1" apart on ungreased baking sheet 12 to 15 minutes. or until set but not brown. Cool; dip tops of cookies in icing. Decorate each cooky with one of the suggested toppings from above. Makes 20 to 25 Bonbon cookies.
Bonbon Icing - Mix 1 cup sifted confectioners sugar, 2&1/2 tbsp. cream, 1 tsp. vanilla, and red, green, or yellow food coloring, if desired.

Best Ever Peanut Butter Cookies

3/4 C creamy peanut butter

1/2 C Butter Flavor Crisco
1 1/4 C firmly packed light brown sugar
3 T milk
1 T vanilla
1 egg
1 3/4 C flour
3/4 t salt
3/4 t baking soda

Heat oven to 375. Combine Peanut Butter, Crisco, brown sugar, milk, and vanilla. Beat at medium speed until well blended. Add egg. Blend well. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking soda. Add to creamed mixture at low speed and mix until just blended. Drop by heaping spoonfulls 2 inches apart onto un-greased cooking sheet. Flatten slightly in cross cross pattern with the prongs of a fork. Bake for 7-8 mins or until set and just beginning to brown.


Chocolate No-Bakes

1 3/4 C sugar

1/2 C milk
1/2 C butter
4 T cocoa

Mix ingredients above in saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for about 1.5 mins. Remove from heat and stir in the following:

1/2 C peanut butter
3 C oats
1 t vanilla

Place spoon fulls of dough on cookie sheets lined with wax paper. Let cool 20-30 mins.

Peanutty Chocolate Truffles



3/4 C creamy peanut butter
1/4 C butter or margarine
1 t vanilla extract
1/3 C cocoa mix
1 C powdered sugar
1 C finely chopped peanuts

Line baking sheets with waxed paper. Beat peanut butter, butter, and vanilla. Combine cocoa mix and powdered sugar in separate bowl. Stir into PB mix. Place peanuts in flat dish. Scoop peanut butter mixture into balls and roll in peanuts to coat. Place on baking sheets and refrigerate to firm.


No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies



½ C. butter
½ C. milk
2 C. sugar
½ C. peanut butter
3 C. quick cooking oats
5 tbsp. cocoa powder
½ C. chopped walnuts (optional)
½ C. flaked coconut (optional)

1. Melt butter then add milk and sugar and boil for 1 ½ minutes.
2. Add peanut butter, oatmeal, cocoa powder, and one of the optional ingredients.
3. Drop on wax paper and allow to cool before enjoying.


Orange Oatmeal Cookies

2 C. flour
1 C. brown sugar
1 C. white sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. nutmeg or cinnamon
1 C. shortening (or half margarine/half shortening)
2 eggs
4 tsp. grated orange rind
2 tbsp. orange juice
3 C. rolled oats

Heat oven to 375. Mix sugars, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, shortening, eggs, orange rind, and orange juice. Add flour, then mix in oats. Drop level tablespoon of dough on greased baking sheet 2 inches apart. Bake 12-15 minutes. Cool on rack. Makes 5 dozen.

Russian tea cake cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans
Powdered Sugar

Preparation:

Preheat oven 400°. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with 1/2 cup powdered sugar and vanilla.
Stir in flour and salt and pecans. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Bake for about 9 minutes. Roll warm tea cakes in sifted powdered sugar. Makes 4 dozen tea cakes.


Chocolate Mint Chip Cookies

3/4 Cup butter flavor Crisco

1 1/4 Cup light brown sugar
2 T milk
1 T vanilla
1 Lg egg
1 3/4 Cup flour
1 t salt
3/4 t baking soda
1 Cup Mint-Chocolate Chips

Heat oven to 375. Mix shortening and brown sugar until fluffy. Mix in milk, vanilla, and egg. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, salt, and baking soda. Stir into other mix slowly. Once all the dry ingredients are mixed in, stir in chocolate-mint chips. Bake 8-10 minutes for chewy or 11-13 for crisp.

Makes approximately 2 dozen.


Pick Your Middles



1 cup shortening
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
various unwrapped candies for the middles

Cream shortening and peanut butter. Add sugars and vanilla, mix again. Add eggs and beat until fluffy. Stir in the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix well. Scoop into balls the size of walnuts and place on a cookie sheet. Press on candy into the center of each cookie. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes, or until the tops just start to brown.


Cheesecake Cookies

3/4 cup butter, softened

3 oz cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
4 teaspoons lemon peel, shredded
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/3 cup pecans, finely chopped
1/3 cup graham crackers, crushed

Mix the butter, cream cheese and sugar. Add the lemon peel (I didn't have a lemon this time and left it out and they were just fine), lemon juice and vanilla. Mix well. Add flour. Chill dough for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, crush the graham crackers and pecans together in a zip top baggie. Lay out a piece of wax paper and pour 1/2 of the crumb-nut mixture onto it. Lay 1/2 of the chilled dough on top and roll into a log, covering the sides with the crumb mixture. Place on a new piece of wax paper and roll up. Repeat with remaining 1/2 of dough and crumb mixture. Place dough logs into the fridge for 2 hours, to the freezer for 30 minutes (this is what I do). When they are chilled slice them into about 1/2 inch thicknesses and place on a cookie sheet. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 8-10 minutes, or until the bottoms are just brown. Cool on a wire rack.


Gingersnaps

1 cup packed brown sugar

3/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
2 1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
Sugar for rolling

Mix brown sugar, shortening, egg and molasses in a large bowl. Add everything but the sugar for rolling and mix well. Scoop tablespoons out and shape them into a ball, roll into sugar and place on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Cool on wire rack, store in an airtight container.


Coconut Macaroons

1 egg white

1 (14 oz) can of sweetened condensed milk
1 (14 oz) Bag of shredded coconut
2 teaspoons vanilla OR almond extract

Whip the egg white in a bowl until foamy and almost double in bulk. In a separate bowl, whip the sweetened condensed milk. Usually this is something that I would skip, but beating the milk seems to give it a lighter texture and makes it easier to mix in. Add the whipped milk to the egg white along with the coconut and flavorings. Mix together with a spatula or wooden spoon. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto a greased cookie sheet. If you don't grease it, they will stick. Alternately, parchment paper works very well and there is no need to grease it. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 15-17 minutes or until the coconut on top is starting to get nicely browned and the cookies seem set. Remove IMMEDIATELY from the cookie sheet and let cool on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.


Snickerdoodles


1 cup shortening

1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
Cinnamon-Sugar for rolling
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream the shortening, sugar, vanilla and eggs together. Add the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Mix until well combined. Shape into balls and roll into cinnamon sugar. Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees 8-10 minutes.



Double Chocolate Mint Chip Cookies

2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened

1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 package of mint chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy, add egg and vanilla. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, cocoa and salt. Gradually mix into wet ingredients. Stir in the mint chocolate chips and drop by rounded tablespoon onto a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-9 minutes or until just set. Let cool on a wire rack (if you can!)













































Friday, December 10, 2010

Refrigerator Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing




These cinnamon rolls couldn't be simpler. You mix them up, let them raise, shape them and then pop them into the fridge to hang out overnight. In the morning, you take them out to sit on the counter while the over pre-heats and voila! Cinnamon rolls on any day of the week.

This recipe is one that I got out of a family cookbook a couple years ago and I have been using it for sweet breads ever since. However, I think that if you have been making the Grandmother bread recipe from Chickens In The Road and are comfortable with it, it would work just as well. I do think I would add the egg and oil variation to it though. But that's just me, do whatever you like. They are your cinnamon rolls after all :)

Recipe:

1 1/4 cups warm water
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/4 cup oil
4-4 1/2 cups flour

Filling:
1/3 cup butter or margarine (tub margarine works the very best!)
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Cream Cheese Icing:

1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter or margarine, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla or maple flavoring


Mix the water, sugar and yeast together. Stir; let sit 5 minutes. Add the egg, oil and salt. Mix. Add the flour a cup. Like I have said before, flour is a general guideline in most bread recipes. Add flour until the dough is a cohesive ball and no longer sticky. It may take a bit more or a bit less than the recipe calls for. In no time you will have a feel for it and won't think twice anymore about how much to add! Knead for 5 minutes, place into a greased bowl, let raise for 1 hour or until doubled in bulk. Punch down the dough, roll it into a 9x11 inch rectangle. Spread the dough with the butter, sprinkle with the cinnamon and spread the brown sugar evenly over the top of it all. Roll up like a jelly roll (think a swiss roll snack cake). Take a piece of string or dental floss and slide it under one end of the rolled up dough. Bring it up and cross it over at the top slicing through the dough. Cut into about 1 1/2 inch pieces and place into a greased 9x13 baking dish. Cover and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, take the rolls out and pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake rolls for 20-25 minutes. While they are baking, beat the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and flavoring together. Mix until well combined; set aside. When the rolls are done, spread immediately with cream cheese frosting. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.



 ENJOY! :)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Why I Am Being Such A Slacker

I've been slacking on my posts lately. My cooking and baking has been severely limited by the other, more important things I have going on. Like crafting everyone I know a homemade Christmas gift.

Next year, when I decide to do this, I start in June.

Not that I'm behind really. No, I'm right on schedule. I just have no free time at all to work in the kitchen. I won't even tell you what our meals have been like.

Ok, they have been pretty pathetic.

I thought today I would show you what I have been up to and in a couple days when I have it all done, I'll show you all the finished things again.

So, here is a small sampling of what I have been doing instead of cooking or baking and sharing it with you:


Some simple hair clippies. I have 4 girls, so there is a lot of hair that needs held back. I made these first ones pretty simple, but some of the ones I'm doing now have more embellishment.



Tutus. These have been SO MUCH FUN to make. I have had a couple of people ask me to make them for their little ones for playtime, so maybe after the holidays I can get started on that. But for now, I'm making some of these for my girls to play in. Honestly, I had my middle kid in mind when I started to make these, but I think all of the girls are going to like them. I'm making sure I make enough of them so they don't fight over the "good" ones.



Simple half aprons. We are getting our littlest two a play kitchen for their big Christmas gift, so I have made a bunch of these little half apron for them. I also have some pot holders ready to stitch and I bought a pack of cheap dishtowels for them to use as kitchen towels. These aprons started out having a full top that had a loop over the head, but I made one to test the size on them and quickly learned that the neck loop wasn't a good idea for them. Choking Hazard fit the aprons perfectly at that point, so I altered my design to look like this. I'm very happy with them.

In addition to these simple items, we are making (and are about 1/2 done) with a play mat for the twins to drive their cars on. It's a barn theme and is shaping up to be really cute. I also am making something VERY COOL for my mom, but I'm obviously going to have to wait to post pictures of it until after Christmas.

So, I'm interested to know, are you crafting anything for Christmas? Give me the details!


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas Cookie Countdown *Pick-Your-Middles*


These are one of kids' favorite cookies, but I'm not sure if it the actual cookie that they like or the candy that they get if it's left over :)

This is a simple peanut butter cookie. You choose which candies you want to press into the middles before baking. Today, I used Rolo candies and plain old Hershey's Kisses. I have also used mini peanut better cups as well as other flavors of kisses in these and they always turn out great. Even the youngest of kids can press a piece of candy into the center of these cookies, making it a great activity for holiday baking!
This is my all time favorite peanut butter cookie recipe. To make them plain PB cookies, roll the balls in sugar and make a cross cross design on the tops with the tines of a fork. Bake as directed in this recipe :)

Recipe:

1 cup shortening
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
various unwrapped candies for the middles

Cream shortening and peanut butter. Add sugars and vanilla, mix again. Add eggs and beat until fluffy. Stir in the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix well. Scoop into balls the size of walnuts and place on a cookie sheet. Press on candy into the center of each cookie. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes, or until the tops just start to brown.

When these come out, I spread the rolos or peanut butter cups with a butter knife so that you can tell what kind of candy it is.

Happy baking!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas Cookie Countdown *Tea Cakes*


Russian Tea Cakes, Tea Cakes, Snowballs, Mexican Wedding Cookies. These simple little cookies have a lot of different names but the same FABULOUS flavor.

Set these out for snacking while you trim the tree and you will have one houseful of happy elves :)

This recipe comes out of my "green cookbook", The Christian Home Cookbook. It is a collection of recipes from Mennonite women. I tried to find a link to it on Amazon, because it's a wonderful cookbook and I would encourage you to buy one should you ever find one, but they didn't have any.  (I wasn't surprised by that though)

You'll have to be satisfied with me just sharing the recipes I guess.

Recipe:

1 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup powdered sugar
powder sugar for dusting

Cream thee butter, vanilla and powdered sugar together. Add the flour and salt; mix well. Stir in the nuts and roll into 1 inch balls. (I rolled mine slightly smaller than that) Place on a cookie sheet and bake in a 400 degree oven for 10-12 minutes, or until the bottoms are browning. The tops SHOULD NOT brown. Remove from oven and immediately roll in powdered sugar. Let cool completely. Roll in powdered sugar again. Store in an airtight container (if they last that long!)

Christmas Cookie Countdown *Cheesecake Cookies*


Today's cookie is- Cheesecake Cookies! How divine is that? It's worth the wait!

I first added this recipe to my favorites the day Suzanne over at Chickens In The Road posted about them. That has been a while ago now, and I don't know why I haven't made them yet. Well, I have now. But I mean, why did I wait this long for something so DELICIOUS? I don't know either.

Here is her step-by-step instructions in case you have any questions about the whole process.

And I won't make you wait any longer for the recipe:

3/4 cup butter, softened
3 oz cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
4 teaspoons lemon peel, shredded
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/3 cup pecans, finely chopped
1/3 cup graham crackers, crushed

Mix the butter, cream cheese and sugar. Add the lemon peel (I didn't have a lemon this time and left it out and they were just fine), lemon juice and vanilla. Mix well. Add flour. Chill dough for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, crush the graham crackers and pecans together in a zip top baggie. Lay out a piece of wax paper and pour 1/2 of the crumb-nut mixture onto it. Lay 1/2 of the chilled dough on top and roll into a log, covering the sides with the crumb mixture. Place on a new piece of wax paper and roll up. Repeat with remaining 1/2 of dough and crumb mixture. Place dough logs into the fridge for 2 hours, to the freezer for 30 minutes (this is what I do). When they are chilled slice them into about 1/2 inch thicknesses and place on a cookie sheet. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 8-10 minutes, or until the bottoms are just brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Happy baking!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Christmas Cookie Countdown *Gingersnaps*


Now, these are called gingersnaps, but nothing about them snaps. They are spicy, moist and chewy. These make the absolute best ice cream sandwiches when paired with vanilla bean ice cream. Although there are so many holiday flavors of ice cream out there right now, I bet just about any one of them would be fabulous as well.

That said, these cookies need nothing more than a cold glass of milk or a hot cup of tea.

Recipe:

1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
2 1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
Sugar for rolling

Mix brown sugar, shortening, egg and molasses in a large bowl. Add everything but the sugar for rolling and mix well. Scoop tablespoons out and shape them into a ball, roll into sugar and place on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Cool on wire rack, store in an airtight container.

Happy Baking!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Christmas Cookie Countdown *Coconut Macaroons*


Today's cookie- Coconut Macaroons

These are probably the SIMPLEST cookie ever. They have 4 ingredients and take no time to whip up. They are chewy on the inside and toasted on the outside. Give them a chocolate dip or drizzle and they really become a treat!

I got this recipe off of the back of a bag of coconut a long time ago, I'm not even really sure what brand it was. All I know is that it is a good recipe, really good.

Recipe:

1 egg white
1 (14 oz) can of sweetened condensed milk
1 (14 oz) Bag of shredded coconut
2 teaspoons vanilla OR almond extract

Whip the egg white in a bowl until foamy and almost double in bulk. In a separate bowl, whip the sweetened condensed milk. Usually this is something that I would skip, but beating the milk seems to give it a lighter texture and makes it easier to mix in. Add the whipped milk to the egg white along with the coconut and flavorings. Mix together with a spatula or wooden spoon. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto a greased cookie sheet. If you don't grease it, they will stick. Alternately, parchment paper works very well and there is no need to grease it. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 15-17 minutes or until the coconut on top is starting to get nicely browned and the cookies seem set. Remove IMMEDIATELY from the cookie sheet and let cool on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.

After they have cooled you could dip the bottoms or half of the cookie into melted chocolate, or drizzle the tops. Also, I think about 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips would be amazing in these.

Happy baking!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas Cookie Countdown *Snickerdoodles*


Today's cookie is a Snickerdoodle. Now, if you have ever had Snickerdoodles and NOT liked them, I suggest you try this recipe. It honestly isn't like any other Snickerdoodle I have ever tasted.

This is a recipe from my Grandma and the ONLY one I have ever used, or will ever use. It's just that good.

Recipe:

1 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
Cinnamon-Sugar for rolling
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream the shortening, sugar, vanilla and eggs together. Add the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Mix until well combined. Shape into balls and roll into cinnamon sugar. Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees 8-10 minutes.

Couple notes here: I use a small ice cream scoop, probably a Tablespoon and this makes 4 dozen cookies. Also they spread a bit so be sure to leave a little room in between. Lastly, these can be cooked a little less to be softer or a little longer to be crisp. Find the way that you like them best and adjust the time accordingly :)

Happy baking!


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christmas Cookie Countdown *Double Chocolate Mint*


Double Chocolate Mint Cookies.

This recipe come right off the ole bag of Hershey's Chocolate Mint Chip bag. It may not be fancy, but it is good.

Recipe:

2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 package of mint chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy, add egg and vanilla. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, cocoa and salt. Gradually mix into wet ingredients. Stir in the mint chocolate chips and drop by rounded tablespoon onto a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-9 minutes or until just set. Let cool on a wire rack (if you can!) 

This is recipe #1 of my cookie week. I'll be posting new cookie recipes all week, maybe you can find a new favorite to make this year!