Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bring on 2009!

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year!!

Please be careful if you are out on the roads tonight!

I'd love to hear how you spent your new year's eve and what you were doing when the new year rolled in!

We are sitting here waiting for the ball to drop. I can't wait to sleep in tomorrow! ;)

See ya in 2009!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Our Christmas Cookies

My kids and I had a good time making Christmas cookies this year. Both of the kids were a big help--even though if it were left up to my daughter, she would eat them in dough form and skip the baking!

Santa cleaned his plate, too, and drank all of his milk!

Thanks to my Mom and my new mixer, the cookies were a breeze to mix up this year. Here they are from left to right:

Across Top: My soft sour cream sugar cookies

Bottom Left: chocolate chocolate chip cookies

Next to choc. choc. chip: "cleaning out the kitchen cookies"

Right side below sugar cookies- TWD sugar Cookies covered in cinnamon sugar

Right side bottom - My mil's soft oatmeal raisin cookies

The recipes:

Tami's Soft Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

1/2c. shortening(part butter or margarine)
1c. sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2 2/3c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 sour cream

Heat oven to 425 degrees

Mix shortening, sugar, egg, & vanilla thoroughly.

Blend dry ingredients.

Add to sugar mixture alternately with sour cream.

Divide dough, roll out on a well-floured board. Cut with cookie cutters (metal cookie cutters w/ open tops are the easiest). You can make these as thick as you want...the thicker, the chewier.

Place cookies on greased baking sheets. Sprinkle with sugar unless you are going to ice them. Bake 7-8 min or until very lightly browned.

The Chocolate Chocolate Chip cookies can be found here. I've written about them already and they've become a favorite at our house.

"Cleaning out the kitchen cookies" come about when I have bits and pieces of things left over from other recipes. For example, in this recipe I used chocolate chips, peanut butter chips and crushed pecans. I've used coconut, almonds, mint choc. chips...whatever I have leftover that I think will tasted good when stir together. For the dough, I used a recipe from Five Forks
She posts about the ultimate chocolate chip cookie--and I think that she's absolutely right! This recipe is delicious!! Instead of using all of the chocolate chips that the recipe calls for, I divided up my ingredients into equal amts. I used my small cookie scoop instead of rolling the cookie dough into balls. These cookies are so good because they don't go flat when you bake them and they stay chewy! She has posted beautiful pics of the cookies on her blog.

The TWD Sugar Cookies can been found here. I had leftover dough so I rolled them into logs and stuck them in the freezer. I layed them on the table for about 5 minutes before I sliced them into circles, and then I dipped them into a cinnamon/sugar mixture and baked them. To me, they tasted better this way but I'm still not really crazy about this recipe. The dough was too much of a hassle for me to worry about. I'm totally biased toward sugar cookie recipes because I LOVE my recipe above.

Aud's Soft Oatmeal Raisin Cookies - if you like "dunking" cookies, you have to try these!
Here is the recipe:

½ c. sour milk ( ½ c milk with 1 & ½ tsp vinegar)
2 c. shortening
2 c. sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
2 c. raisins
4 c. flour
5 c rolled oats
Cover raisins with boiling water and let sit to soften ; drain well.

Blend shortening and sugar ; add eggs, one at a time; add vanilla & salt, mix thoroughly. Add raisins to dry mix. Dissolve soda in milk. Add flour alternately with milk. Add rolled oats
Bake at 375 degrees 12-15 minutes or until light brown

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all of my blogger friends!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Thanks Mom!

Look what my Mom gave to me when we were in PA to visit her!

She's this itty bitty little lady - not even 100 lbs soaking wet- and it took all she could do to move it around. She said that she knows how much I love to cook and bake so she asked me if I wanted it!! UH...YES!!!

You see...sadly (lol!) I am not an itty bitty little thing so I have no problem moving it around and I have been giving it a work out! It's gonna get a workout later today when I start on my Christmas cookies and other goodies, too!

Mom is a happy baker once again, too. She wanted a Sunbeam MixMaster so we bought her one so that she could bake her Christmas cookies! :) She told me tonight that she is thrilled with her new mixer.


Merry Christmas Everyone!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Pumpkin Eggnog Bundt Cake

I made this pretty bundt cake a couple of weeks ago but I never got around to posting it until now. The cake is super easy to make - it would make a wonderful gift for Christmas.

You need:

1 box yellow cake mix
1 -4 serving- pkg. vanilla instant pudding & pie filling
1/4 C. pumpkin eggnog
1/4 C. vegetable oil
4 eggs
4 tsps. pumpkin pie spice
powdered sugar to sprinkle on top -optional

What you do:

Preheat oven to 350*

In a large bowl, mix together cake mix, pudding, eggnog and oil on low speed until moistened. Add eggs and pumpkin pie spice and beat on medium-high for 4 minutes.

Pour batter into a greased and floured bundt pan.

Bake 35 - 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove cake from pan to a cooling rack to cool completely. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Snowball Cookies

It wouldn't be Christmas at many homes without these nutty snowball cookies. This is an easy recipe that the kids can have fun helping to make snowballs. No snowball fights, though!

To see my recipe for these wonderful cookies, simply click on their name.

Mini Dreidel Cakes

Serve these yummy cake bites to "top" off your Hanukkah dinner. These adorable mini dreidels are fun for kids to help make so get started today!

What You Need:

1 frozen pound cake, cut into 6 thick slices
White Chocolate candy melts
White Chocolate candy kisses
Blue paste food coloring
Yellow sugar sprinkles (if desired)
Blue & White striped straws, cut into 2 in. pieces

What You Do:

For ease of cutting, make sure the pound cake is frozen. Using a serrated knife, trim the "crust" (outside brown layer) from the pound cake slices.

Cut each slice of cake into 4 rectangles - slice vertically in half and then horizontally in half. Holding a rectangle - long sides pointing up and down - stick one piece of a straw into the top of the cake, creating a handle.

Melt candy melts in the microwave according to directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of chocolate.

Holding onto the straw handle, dip each piece of cake into the white chocolate, turning to cover. Lie on plate and immediately stick a candy kiss onto the open end of the cake. Sprinkle Dreidels with yellow sugar, if desired. Once all of the cake pieces have been covered with chocolate and sugar, chill in refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Tint the reserved 1/2 cup of chocolate light blue. Fill a small plastic Baggie with the blue chocolate, creating a decorating bag. Barely snip one corner of the Baggie. Use this to draw the outlined boxes and letters on the Dreidels. (Refer to picture for help)

Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature 30 minutes before serving.

Can be frozen after decorated.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Mitten Cookies

Are you looking for an easy wintertime project or perhaps something to do with your kids on a snowy day? These mitten cookies are the perfect project for you! The best part is that the kids get to eat their creations. YUM!

What You Need:

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough (use your favorite recipe or one is provided below)

Vanilla and Chocolate Icing

Asst. Colors of Paste Food Coloring

Small Candies for Decorating

Colored Sugars and Sprinkles

Mitten Cookie Cutter

Peanut Butter

Favorite Jelly or Jam

Sm. Plastic Baggies


Dixie Cups or Small Bowls

What You Do:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Prepare your favorite Peanut Butter cookie dough recipe or use the one listed below. On a lightly floured surface, roll cookies dough out to 3/8 in. thickness. Make sure to cut out an even numbered amount of cookies so that they can be paired together. When laying cookies on a baking sheet, be sure to flip over every other cookie so that one mitten thumb is facing left and one is facing right, to make pairing easy. Bake as directed. It is important to make sure that these cookies are completely cooled before icing.

Time to Decorate:


An adult should prepare the icing ahead of time for easier handling. To color the Vanilla icing, add a small amount of icing into a bowl -one bowl per each color that you will be using- and stir in a small amount of paste food coloring. Make icing bags by filling a plastic baggie with one of the colored icings and squeezing the icing into one corner of the bag. Carefully snip off the very end of the corner of each bag.

Separate candies into individual bowls or Dixie cups.

Decorating Cookies:
Pair the cookies so that each child has two cookies, forming one mitten. Allow the kids to decorate the top cookie with icing, candy, etc. Set this cookie aside to dry. On the topside of the bottom cookie, spread a thin layer of peanut butter, topping with a thin layer of jelly. Finish by placing their decorated cookie on top of the jelly.

Serve alongside a glass of milk and enjoy!

For best quality and taste, these cookies are meant to be decorated and eaten immediately; not frozen for later use.

Peanut Butter Shortbread Cookies
1 C. Butter or Butter-Flavored Crisco

2/3 C. Creamy Peanut Butter

2/3 C. Light Brown Sugar, packed

1 1/2 tsp. Vanilla

2 1/2 C. All-Purpose Flour

1/4 C. Cornstarch

Combine the butter, peanut butter, and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl; beat with electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Beat in vanilla. Slowly beat or stir in the flour and cornstarch until mixture starts sticking together. At this point, I use my hands to mix the cookie dough until thoroughly mixed together. Roll out on a lightly floured board to about 3/8-inch thickness, cut with cookie cutters and place on an un-greased baking sheet.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until cookies are set and light brown. Cool on the pan for 5-7 minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Letter Meme

I requested a letter from Sharon at View from my treehousefor this meme. She assigned me the letter letter is "A" for Advent. I am supposed to list 10 things I LOVE that begin with the letter assigned.

A for Advent

1 & 2 are, without a doubt, Andy & Alexis (my kids!)
3. Anise -- I LOVE the flavor of this stuff!!
4. airplanes (thankfully my husband still has a job working on them!)
5. autumn blossoms
7. My slight Pittsburgh-area accent :)
8.MacIntosh Apple Yankee Candles
9."All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth" - one of my favorite Christmas songs since my son sang it in his kindergarten Christmas concert.
10. participating in activities with my kids

Thanks, Sharon! This was fun!

If you would like to participate in this meme, just post a reply here and ask for a letter. I'd love to see what you come up with!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Pretzel Wreaths

Add a touch of whimsy to your tree with these adorable and tasty pretzel wreaths. These also make the perfect last minute 'thank you' gift for friends, family or just about anyone. We made these as an early teacher's present during December's celebrations.

What You Need
Mini Pretzels - 7 pretzels per wreath
White Chocolate Candy Melts
Mini Candies such as Mini M&Ms, Red Hots, Gum Drops, etc.
Fruit Leather Rolls
Sugar (optional)
Wax Paper
Baking Sheet

What You Do
Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Using 7 pretzels for each wreath, form small circles on the wax paper.

Melt white chocolate in the microwave at 30-second intervals, until melted. Use the chocolate to "glue" the pretzels together, sides touching. While the chocolate is still wet, garnish with candy decorations. Either let the chocolate air dry or slide the baking sheet into the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes until the chocolate is hard.

We do not recommend refrigerating any of the wreaths that are decorated with candies that have a sugar coating. The sugary coating melts once the candies come back to room temperature.

Roll out the fruit leather, pressing both the front & back of the leather into sugar for a festive look. Cut into thin strips to use for ribbons on the wreath and for the hanger on top of the wreath.

Tip: If you are planning on hanging your wreaths on a tree, use clear fishing line to create a hanger for your wreaths. Do not hang the wreath from the fruit leather, as it will break.

Reindeer Cookies

I made these reindeer cookies for the first time for my son's first grade Christmas party. Boy, where does the time go? He's now in 5th grade! We've made them as part of our Christmas cookies at home ever since then. They make me smile because they look so happy. :)

This is an easy recipe to get the kids into the kitchen with you!

What You Need

1 roll of pre-made sugar cookie dough
small pretzel rings
M & Ms
1 bell shaped cookie cutter
baking sheet

What You Do

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Open cookie dough and mix in about 1/4 cup of flour to make the dough a stiffer consistency. Lightly flour the table, then roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness.

Using the bell cookie cutter, cut out 12 bell cookies - this will vary depending on how thick you roll out the cookies. Lay the cookies, all the same way with bell facing you, onto the cookie sheet. Now, turn the cookie sheet around so that the bells are upside down. This is your reindeer face! Place a red M&M in his nose and one pretzel on each side of his head for the ears. (See photo)

Bake for 10 minutes or until very lightly browned around edges. Remove from oven and let cool on the baking sheet for 1-2 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

These make great Christmas party favors!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

TWD ~ Grandma's All-Occasion Sugar Cookies

I am finally catching up on everything from being away on vacation for a week. YAY!

For this week's Tuesdays With Dorie recipe we are making Grandma's All-Occasion Sugar Cookies. This recipe was chosen by Ulrike of Kuchenlatein.

The dough was very quick and easy to whip up. However, this is where the "quick and easy" part stops. My dough was very soft, almost too soft. I resisted the urge to add more flour to it even though I thought that it would help tremendously.

I divided the dough into 2 pieces and chilled it for 3 hours. The dough was still very sticky when I took it out of the frig. At this point I did add a little more flour on the top and bottom of the dough to ease in moving the cut-out cookies from the table to the cookie sheet. After one round of cutting and chilling the dough, I decided that it would be much less frustrating to roll the remaining dough into a log and stick in the the freezer for one of those nights when my family wants dessert but I don't have anything made for that night.

I baked one sheet of cut-out candy canes, stocking and small circles. If you take the cookies out of the oven before they start browning, they will stay softer than if you leave them in until they start browning around the edges--of course, this is a personal preference that ranks right up there with "which ketchup is better" or "do you drink Coke or Pepsi?". We prefer the softer, chewier cookies.

I would suggest adding some other flavoring other than vanilla to the dough unless you are looking for a very plain sugar cookie. Since I hadn't added any extra flavoring, I decided to sandwich raspberry preserves inbetween the round cookies and then drizzle them with powdered sugar icing. They turned out pretty and tasted pretty good, too.

I sprinkled chopped up Andes Candies onto a few of the stockings and candy cane cookies and stuck them back into the oven for a couple of minutes to melt the chocolate. For the remaining cookies, I just drizzled them with the left over powdered sugar icing.

I'm sure that my family will enjoy the slice and bake cookies sometime soon! For some reason, cookie dough never seems to last long around here. ;)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Lump of Coal Candy

Do you know someone who has been naughty this year? Fill their stocking with these lumps of candy coal! This also makes a great gag gift!

What You Need

2 cups granulated sugar

3/4 cup light corn syrup

1/2 tsp. black paste food color

1/2 cup water

1 tsp. anise extract

What You Do

Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, extending edges over the sides of pan. Lightly grease foil with butter or baking spray.

Combine sugar, corn syrup and water in a heavy, non-stick, 2-quart saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until sugar is dissolved and mixture comes to a boil. Cook about 15 minutes, without stirring, until a candy thermometer registers 290 degrees F.

Immediately remove from heat. Stir in anise extract and food coloring. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Cool completely.

Lift candy out of pan using foil. Place candy between 2 layers of heavy-duty foil. Using a hammer or mallet, break candy into pieces the size of a lump of coal.

Fill a plastic baggie with a few pieces of coal and attach the following poem:


I heard you have been naughty not nice,
And Santa even checked his list twice.
So all the way from the cold North Pole
all you're getting is a bag of coal.

This is one of my favorite Christmas recipes that I have made. It does make a little bit of a mess when you go to break up the candy but it's so cute when it's packaged up that it's worth it.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Excuse my mess

Please excuse my mess while I redecorate.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Have you ever...?

For fun and to take a break from the stresses of the holidays, I decided to take part in this questionnaire from Maier Memories

Have You Ever?

Just for grins and giggles. Copy this list and put it on your blog. If you've done it, bold it.

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland (and DisneyWorld!)
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill --ssshhh!
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping -TMI?
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run -- I'm guessing that one on the Wii doesn't count?
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied--most of the time
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelos David
41. Sung karaoke - if that's what you want to call it!
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check (not that I'm proud of it, but I have)
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job --not proud of this, either!
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Read an entire book in one day - It's been a while...The Bridges of Madison County was the last book that I've read in one day. That's sad to me. I love to read but rarely have the time to do a lot of it in one day.

There are many more on this list that I hope to do one day!

Why not take a moment out of your busy day to post this on your blog! Let me know if you do. :)

Tuesdays with Dorie ~ Linzer Sables

Noskos of Living the Life chose Linzer Sables as this week's Tuesdays With Dorie recipe.

In my opinion, this cookie was just ok, nothing special. I had no problems following the recipe the way it was written, although I only had to bake my cookies 6 1/2 minutes. I chose a raspberry preserves as the filling for these cookies. I really didn't like the taste of the cookies with the cinnamon & cloves mixed with the raspberry filling. Perhaps another filling or even different ground nuts (I used walnuts) would've made them taste better to me.

Anyway, here they are:

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