Reinventing The Wheel

And what a lovely reinvention it was. This is one that I know a lot of you have seen all over the ‘net but yep, it was MY turn darn it! I’m all for fair play and cool stuff like that. Except in Yahtzee. I’ve been known to turn the die to whatever number I needed when my opponent wasn’t looking. But that will be our little secret, right? That and that I may or may not haveΒ  added a few extra children pegs once when I played “Life”. Like I of all people needed to add more kids, considering I have six in real life, huh?

Like I said, this has been all over the ‘net. But as far as I can tell, the first place it showed up was on the blog Six Sisters Stuff . I love their blog. Good homey food, a close knit family and did I mention the good homey food? So I wanted to give the credit there since theirs was the oldest recipe I could find.

I did these almost exactly like theirs with the only change being that I added quite a bit more spice. If you know me, you already knew that was coming though. I about tripled the cinnamon and also added some ginger and cloves to the flour mixture and used butter instead of margarine. I also didn’t chill the dough. Not sure if that was the reason my cookies never flattened out. They stayed in balls. Mind you, they still tasted awesome but they were cakier. Could also be I didn’t measure my flour well enough. Again though, they were still good. I think next time however, I will do these the typical snickerdoodle way and use just baking soda and cream of tartar as the leavening and see if that makes them flatter and chewier. πŸ˜€ Most of the dough got frozen to make closer to Christmas so we’ll see if that makes a difference in the final product. But if you still aren’t ready to give up Pumpkin, this is a good one to try.

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp (or margarine)
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 3 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon (original was 1/2 teaspoon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger (optional-my addition)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves ( optional-my addition)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the butter, shortening, sugars, pumpkin and egg. Beat until light and fluffy.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the dry ingredients and then mix into the wet ones. Beat until well blended.
  4. Chill the dough for about 30 minutes, then shape into small balls.
  5. In a bowl, combine about 1/2 cup of sugar with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon ginger (more or less according to taste.. I of course used more hehe)
  6. Roll the balls in the sugar mix then place on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 400 degrees for 7 to 9 minutes, or until light brown and set but not hard.
  7. Let cool in pan for a minute or so, then finish cooling on a rack.

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Oh SNAP! Gingersnap That Is

I’ve never understood that phrase. But then again, I’m old and don’t get a lot of the lingo from say, the past 20 years or so. I like to delude myself and say “self… it’s not that you’re out of touch and totally backwards like your kids (and everyone else who knows you) say. Honest, it isn’t. It’s just that you have been far too busy with motherhood, doing good works to save the world, writing the “Great American Novel” and raising awareness of causes like “Save The One Toed Green Eyed Purple Sloth” (that cause failed btw… all the one toed green eyed purple sloths are gone now) to worry about mundane things like hip phrases (does anyone use the word hip now or did I just verify my…well… unhipness?)”

The above could be why my older brother Steve, who was always far less cool and with it than I, had to explain to me what the letters LFMF meant (means “Learn From My Fail” for you other backward folk). He, in his doddering old age, knew more than I, in my youthful hipness… or is that hippiness in my case? Gotta cut down on the cookies. Oh well.

I mentioned before that every year I make cookies. More cookies than can be eaten by a small country. I make some of the same every year and some new ones every year, which might or might not go into the yearly traditions. Well, one that has been in there for about 20 years now are gingersnaps. WAIT A MINUTE! Get back here! This is NOT like those completely disgusting ones that you get in bags at the supermarket. I hate those myself. But I always liked the IDEA of them which is why I tried these years back. Verdict? They’re fantastic. These are chewy, full of the spices that just scream Christmas (no.. really… they do. Spices talk to you too don’t they?) and one that always disappears from my cookie tray at Christmas. That may or may not be due to my oldest son and I hogging them but I prefer to think that everyone gets their fair share. HA! Yeah right. Back away from the Gingersnaps.

Chewy Gingersnaps

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (I tend to go far heavier on the spices)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  1. In a large bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, molasses and egg.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt and all spices other than the last teaspoon of cinnamon (and the last 1/4 cup sugar)
  3. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ones.
  4. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour (can be frozen at this point for later use) to firm it up.
  5. When chilled, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Shape dough into mediumish (about 1 inch) balls. Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl then roll each cookie ball in it.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes ( I make my cookies a bit bigger. If you do, just remember to increase your cooking time). They will puff up at first, then flatten out. Generally speaking, about a minute after they flatten out in the oven is when they are done. They should be firm and set on the top but not crispy looking.
  8. Cool for about a minute on the pan then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Make sure to eat one, two… awww, what the heck, make it 12, while still warm. I won’t judge.

 

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It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas??? Somewhere.

Peppermint Bark Chocolate Chip Cookies

But that somewhere is so not here in Kentucky. We have, thus far, been having an annoyingly mild holiday season. Thanksgiving day it was close to 60 degrees. Today, as I baked Christmas cookies, it got up OVER 60. Tomorrow, which according to my calendar is supposed to be December 3rd, is supposed to be almost 70 degrees. W…T….H…??? At this rate, Santa is going to be coming here by surf board. Ok, I live in a landlocked state… maybe convertible would be better. Whatever. You get my point. It’s too darn warm for December! I want snow! I want a reason to light a fire! I want to have a reason to complain about being cold!

You all have my permission to remind me of this post when I’m whining about being cold, by the way.

Anyway, I’ve started my yearly Christmas cookie baking. Ever since my now grown and married kids were little, that has meant that I make approximately 352 dozen cookies. The kids aren’t allowed any until Christmas day (well, Christmas eve nowadays) whereupon we all eat cookies until we are ill and then I spend the next week or so foisting them off on unsuspecting strangers. “Hi… I don’t know you and I’m sorry to interrupt you while the paramedics are wheeling you into the ER gushing blood from several arteries but here… have 3 dozen gingersnaps. You’ll love them after you recover from surgery!”

I remember the year I was working about 70 hours a week as an assistant banquet manager for a hotel. Baking became an….interesting…proposition. I had one day off before Christmas. I used that day and made FIFTEEN different types of cookies so as to not disappoint my kids. Yes, yes I AM insane… why do you ask?

Ahhhh, good times… good times. Or something like that.

Today I made my version of Peppermint Bark in a cookie. I swear… I love that stuff. So putting the flavors in a cookie was a natural extension. I know I could have bought those pre crushed bags of the Ghirardelli’s peppermint bark but what would be the fun in THAT? Twas much more interesting to use all the separate components and do it that way. PLUS, the added bonus is that you get far more chocolate in it my way.

So go buy the ingredients. Unless of course you’re like me and always have somewhere in the vicinity of 1200 bags of different baking chips in the house at any given time. Then go hunt through them and get what you need. These are a little bit chewy, a little bit rock and roll. Sorry; I was channeling Donny Osmond. These are a bit chewy, a bit gooey from the chocolate and then you have those awesome crispy bites when you get some of the crushed candy canes. Bottom line? These are oh so yummy!

One thing? Line your cookie sheets with a silicone mat. Trust me. The candy leaks and prying melted candy cane off a cookie sheet is a pain in the arse. This makes a large batch of cookies. The dough freezes well so you could make your dough now and then freeze it, thaw it, pop it into the oven a bit closer to Christmas.

Peppermint Bark Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 4 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 small (3.4 ounces) boxes instant vanilla pudding mix (I actually used one French vanilla and one cheesecake flavored)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract
  • 1 bag dark chocolate chips
  • 1 bag white chocolate chips
  • 16 regular sized candy canes, crushed (the kind that come in boxes of 12) (also, crush in a bag. Using the food processor causes them to get just hot enough to get sticky and lump up)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line your cookie sheet(s) with a silicone mat.
  2. In a bowl, mix together the flour, salt and baking soda.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugars. Cream until light and fluffy(ish)
  4. Beat in the pudding mixes, then the eggs, vanilla and peppermint extract.
  5. Using a wooden spoon, mix in the flour mixture.
  6. Pour in the chocolate chips, white chips and crushed candy canes. Mix well. Cuss me out cause your arms are getting really tired about now.
  7. Drop the cookie dough by spoonfuls onto the prepared sheet(s).
  8. Bake for about 12 minutes or until they are a light golden brown. If you prefer your cookies crispier, give them about another minute or 2 in the oven.
  9. Let cool on a wire rack, then eat them until you feel ill. Thank me later.

 

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I Actually Voluntarily Used Hazelnut

Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Blondies-
Slightly chewy, definitely chocolatey and with a hint of hazelnut flavor.

Wow. Three days in a row blogging. I may just get back to my old habits if I keep this up. Hopefully, I can do it without gaining back any of the weight I’ve lost. That’s been the main reason I stopped blogging as much. fear can be a great motivator against doing certain things lol.

I am pretty sure I’ve mentioned before that I am not a big fan of hazelnuts or anything hazelnut flavored. Usually, that is. I DID try Nutella and ended up liking it though it’s not as regular a part of my snacking as I know it is for many foodies. I have the feeling that there are some bloggers who regularly bathe in Nutella hehe.

Reason being, during my first marriage, I was blessed enough to get to live in Mannheim Germany for 3 years. It’s still a place I remember fondly and miss. I even still have dreams about it… the Volksfests, the Christkindlmarkts during November and December; the smell of spiced wine always takes me right back there… the Konditoreien (you haven’t had good pastries until you get them at a German bakery) and never forgotten, the candy shops. Oh.My.God… German candy is amazingly good. I still reminiscence over a blackberry truffle that has remained unmatched in my memory. The fly in this ointment however is that a LOT of the candies produced in Europe use hazelnut as a flavoring. And when I say lots, I mean L…O…T…S. So I got pretty burnt out on hazelnut anything. I think unless you’re a major fanatic about it in the first place, it’s easy to get tired of it.

I have to admit however that these blondies turned out quite well. I used a Martha Stewart blondie recipe. All I changed was to make the recipe 50% bigger to be able to use a 9×9 inch pan rather than an 8 inch and I added some hazelnut liquor. Believe it or not, next time I think I will add MORE hazelnut liquor (or buy some of this hazelnut flavoring from King Arthur so as to not add too much liquid to the batter. I was actually, for some strange reason, looking forward to the flavor. Probably just so that I could whine over how badly the blondie taste was messed up by the hazelnut taste but you never heard me admit that.

The nutty flavor mixed with the dark chocolate and the walnuts (yes, walnuts; I wasn’t willing to go THAT far with the hazelnut idea nor was I in the mood to shell 9 bazillion of the bitty nuts. I’m lazy. Sue me. YOU however are more than welcome to use hazelnuts instead) was quite good. The blondies themselves were slightly chewy, not really cakey at all which I liked. All in all, I’m rather tickled with this mutant blondie and will be making it again. Now to figure out what to do with the rest of a large bottle of hazelnut liquor.

I’m giving the recipe for the 8 inch pan here. I you don’t have a decent 8 inch pan (mine are rusted old pieces of poop) but have a 9 inch one, just make the recipe 50% bigger. These would work well on your Christmas cookie tray. They’re a pretty looking bar.

Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Blondies

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons hazelnut liquor (or one teaspoon hazelnut flavoring)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 12 ounce bag of chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped hazelnuts (or walnuts or pecans or cashews if that floats your boat)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8 inch square pan and line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang. Butter the paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the butter and the sugar; mix well.
  3. Whisk in the egg, vanilla and hazelnut liquor (or flavoring)
  4. Add the flour and salt and mix JUST until blended. Gently fold in all but about 1/2 cup of the chocolate chips and about 2/3’s of the nuts.
  5. Spoon batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the top then sprinkle on the rest of the chocolate chips and the nuts.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown and a wooden skewer comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Let cool in pan on wire rack until cool, then use the parchment paper to lift the blondies out and cut them into squares.
  7. Eat. Drool. Eat more. Try not to drool more; people will laugh.

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Leftovers? What Leftovers?


Sweet Potato Bread- mashed sweet potatoes, wonderful warm spices, lots of flavor

My household is, in very many ways, a fairly typical American household. In most respects, I’m fine with that; proud of it as a matter of fact. One way I’m not so thrilled however is in the amount of food we tend to waste. Fruits and veggies that go bad before we get to them, meat that gets freezer burned, leftovers that everyone gets sick of and end up getting tossed. It annoys the poop out of me. Which is why, after a day like Thanksgiving, when there are enough leftovers in most families to feed a small country, I like to try to do something with what I can. Something other than serving Russ and the boys turkey and the fixings for yet. One.More.Meal.

Being me however, what really happens is that they get turkey and all the fixings for just one. more. meal. And they cry and gnash their teeth and threaten to move into the neighbors house (and if you’ve seen me talk about my psychotic neighbor, you know the desperation THAT entails). So I placate them. I take the good stuff and recycle it into…well… other good stuff.

There’s a lot you can do with leftover cranberry sauce. A lot you can do with leftover sweet potato casserole. Yep, even with the kind that has 36 cups of brown sugar in it, as well as 8 sticks of butter and 5 bags of mini marshmallows. Trust me. Being the mom of six kids, with the typical “omg, our monthly bills cost HOW much?!” life, I’ve learned to create some yummy stuff out of other stuff that was also yummy once upon a time but that now just causes people to cry when they see it. Mind you, we are also a “normal” American family in that we still spend too much on groceries and still waste too much, but I like to delude myself into thinking that I have a handle on it and am getting better at it. Delusion is also an American way of life hehe.

This bread is a good way to get rid of those last few scoops of sweet potatoes. Don’t bother trying to scrape off the marshmallows (or nuts if you use them) or whatever else is in there. Just use it all. You’ll get a nice moist flavorful bread and a “woohoo!” feeling when you know that you don’t have to nuke the stuff for yet another meal.

Sweet Potato Bread

A nice golden loaf of bread flecked with bits of sweet potato. This will fill your home with the smells of the holiday season as it bakes. Moist and tender, this is great spread with butter or some pumpkin butter if you have it.

  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups (give or take a 1/2 cup or so. I usually go over and it’s fine) mashed sweet potatoes or leftover sweet potatoes
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease and flour (I use Bakers Joy) a large 9 (or even a 10 if you have it) inch bread pan and about 3 muffin cups. Yes, 3… this makes too much batter for one loaf, not enough for 2 8 inch loaves so I usually get the 9 inch loaf and a few muffins from it. The muffins become mine because I’m the cook… I think of it as a mom tax πŸ˜€
  3. In a large bowl, combine the oil, sugars,Β  eggs, vanilla extract and sweet potatoes. Mix well.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Dump them into the large bowl and using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, combine just until mixed. Do NOT over beat.
  5. Pour/spoon into the loaf pan and muffin cups.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown and until a skewer inserted in the center comes out with no crumbs on it. This will take about 20 minutes for the muffins and about 65 to 75 minutes for the loaf.
  7. Let cool in the pan for ten minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to finish cooling. Try not to cut this until it is completely cool, cause it can be a bit gummy when warm due to the sweet potatoes. When cool however, it is just moist and tender.

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You Got Your Chocolate In My Peanut Butter!

Anybody else remember those extremely silly commercials from back in the day? You have one person walking somewhere with a jar of PB (like the person who posted the video asked, who walks around munching from a jar of peanut butter?) and another walking around with a chocolate bar. They crash, the foods collide and junk food magic is created, aka Reeses Cups.

 

 

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a huge peanut butter fan. I would go hungry before eating peanut butter cookies (I can’t even handle the smell of them cooking lol), I tend to omit the peanuts or PB in any recipes needing it and I eat a PB&J sandwich maybe twice a year. I DO however like Reeses Cups (and cinnamon raisin peanut butter but that’s a different post). They may be peanut butter but the taste is different. So when I saw the following recipe here on Big Red Kitchen , I knew I had to try it. Especially since I knew that in my family, it would be a hit. One of my sons is about like me when it comes to PB but the rest of them like it and my daughter in law would kill someone to swipe this from them Love you Tiffy!) πŸ˜› .

As for those I know in the blogger community, Erin ,
Peabody and Lindsey , this is for you ladies who if I remember correctly are peanut butter fans. I know I am remembering correctly that Peabody shares my love for a certain brands cinnamon raisin peanut butter πŸ™‚

The rest of you, if you like peanut butter or Reeses Cups, give this a try. It tastes amazingly similar to a pb cup yet is more fun somehow with the big chunks (ok, that’s just cause I’m a pig) and homey look of it. This is exceedingly simple to make…and way too easy to eat. πŸ˜› The only thing I really changed from the original recipe was to use chocolate chips instead of candy coating because I don’t care for the somewhat fake flavor of coating.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bark

  • 2 1/2 pounds candy coating (or chocolate chips. (I used half milk chocolate, half semi sweet.
  • 1 pound peanut butterΒ  (I used a full 18 ounce jar. I was NOT about to try and measure out a pound. I just used it all.)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Melt half the chocolate according to package directions.
  2. Spread it out to about 1/4 inch thickness on a lightly greased baking pan. The original called for parchment paper lined but over time (over 30 years of cooking. OMG, I’m freaking OLD!), I’ve learned what can go w/out the called for parchment and IΒ  knew that since the chocolate would harden in the fridge and be able to be lifted off, it wouldn’t be needed.
  3. Set aside in the fridge.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the peanut butter, powdered sugar, butter and vanilla. Beat well. The mixture will be thick.
  5. Crumble this over the top of the first chocolate layer.
  6. Melt the remaining chocolate and pour it over the peanut butter layer. Spread it out making cutesy little swirls πŸ˜›
  7. Refrigerate this for at least a few hours or overnight until totally hardened.
  8. Break up in pieces.
  9. Store in the fridge.

Barking Up The RIGHT Tree

I have a bone to pick with a few of you. Why you ask? Because if I get fat, it’s your fault. Yep; YOU and YOU and
YOU and
Even YOU .

All. Your. Fault.

You got me craving bark of some sort… any sort. If I could put the word bark in it, I’ve been craving it. Ok, maybe not tree bark. Or liver bark. Or a bark that’s worse than it’s bite. I don’t want anything that has the word worse in it. I’ll pass on all of those.

So what did I do today? I made two different kinds of bark. Chances are I will not be able to resist them because they are so damn good and I will need to get more fat girl pants.

And it’s your fault.

Aren’t you ashamed?

So, since I know you’re horribly ashamed of yourself, you need to make one or both of these and get fat with me. Then we can go out shopping together for fat girl pants and maybe stop and get some mall food. We all know how healthy THAT is.

Lemon Vanilla Bean Bark

I made this one because I absolutely LOVE anything lemon. My kids will be lucky to get any of this kind.

  • 2 bags (11 to 12 ounces) white chocolate chips
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 bag Brachs Lemon Drops, crushed (put them in a ziploc bag and go at them with a meat tenderizer or a hammer)
  • 1 tablespoon solid shortening
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract or 1/4 teaspoon lemon oil
  1. Slice your vanilla bean in half and scrape out the seeds (don’t throw out the bean. Put it in your sugar bowl and in a few days, you’ll have delicious vanilla sugar) and put them in a large bowl with the white chocolate chips.
  2. Melt the chips and the shortening in the microwave. Use one minute increments, stirring after each one, until the chocolate is melted and liquidy. Don’t over cook it or you’ll end up with a hard lump. Believe me; I’ve done that many times in the past. It’s extremely annoying to put it mildly.
  3. Working quickly, stir the crushed lemon drops and the lemon extract into the chocolate
  4. Plop the mixture onto a foil lined, parchment lined or VERY lightly greased baking sheet and spread it out.
  5. Put in a cold place (I put mine on my front porch) until it is hard. Break it into pieces and eat enough to need fat girl pants. If there is any left, store it in a cool place (front porches work great) in a ziploc type bag.

Rum Raisin Bark

I made THIS one because my favorite candy bar is one I can not find ANYWHERE *sobs*. It is a German one that I got addicted to when I lived in Germany. Many of you probably know of Ritter Sport bars. They can be found at a lot of large grocery stores. The problem is that they don’t seem to ever have the Rum, Trauben, Nuss one and I love it. It is a rum raisin chocolate with nuts. I omitted the nuts because I just wasn’t in the mood but you could probably add about 1/2 cup of chopped hazelnuts to this.

  • 1 12 ounce bag milk chocolate chips
  • 1 12 ounce bag semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 3 tablespoons solid shortening
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons rum extract
  1. In a large bowl, melt your chips and shortening in the microwave. Melt at one minute increments, stirring after each minute, until the chocolate is melted.
  2. Working quickly stir in the raisins and the rum extract.
  3. Spread on a foil lined, parchment lined or lightly greased baking sheet.
  4. Put in a cool place to harden then break into pieces.
  5. Eat a lot. Go get those fat girl pants. Sob. Eat more for comfort and get involved in a vicious cycle that only a woman could do.

I’ve Been Told I’m An Airhead

That must be why I like nice airy souffles so much. Wait. Does that mean I’m a cannibal if I eat one? Ehhh, who cares; they’re tasty (wonders suddenly if I was a member of the Donner Party in a past life).

Once upon a time, I wouldn’t eat souffles. I also wouldn’t eat sushi, anything with Acai Berries, Quinoa or any sort of thing touted as an ancient grain,. Nor would I touch Risotto, anything “Blackened” (unless I accidentally burned it) Avocados, Organic Foods, bottled water, artisan anything or anything bought at the “it” store of any given moment. I had/have a thing about being trendy.

Ok, really, I have this slight quirk when it comes to being non-conformist. Fine! I admit it! I really really hate to follow the crowds. I think it comes from being that “bully target” when I was a kid. If I wasn’t good enough then, I’m sure as hell not changing and being like everyone else just to fit in NOW. πŸ˜› That stupidly extended to what I would eat.

Yeah. I need therapy.

I have however gotten to the point of eating most of those things. I still tend to roll my eyes at organic simply because I’m too cynical for my own good and don’t believe that 1) the vast majority of organic/clean foods are any better for you (unless you raise them yourself) than other foods and a lot of studies agree with that idea and 2) I’m not rich. Plus, unless it is in a California roll piece of sushi, I still don’t care for avocados. Nor will I buy 99.9% of anything labeled artisanΒ  simply because I hate snooty foods lol and that I’m not rich thing again πŸ˜›

I have learned to love souffles. Sweet, savory, whatever, I’ll try them. I admit to a fondness for the sweet ones though. Whoda thunk it huh?

I have always loved the chocolate mint combo. I have mentioned that on a number of blogs recently because it tis the season for that combination right now. However, even there, I have to be different. It’s a sickness; I swear. I need rehab. Or chocolate. Whichever.

So I didn’t make mine with milk or dark chocolate (or the real stuff as my friend Bel would say. According to her, white chocolate isn’t real πŸ˜› ). I made it with white chocolate. But being me, I had to mess with it even more. So I added that nice minty Christmas mint flavor by adding some Peppermint Schnapps.

This turned out really really good. I was kind of tickled with myself to be honest. It would be a perfect fit on Christmas or just whenever you want a treat. So try this one. I insist. Or I’ll make you eat raw liver. This is a change up from a white chocolate souffle recipe I found at thatsmyhome.com

White Chocolate & Peppermint Schnapps Souffle

  • 5 large eggs, room temp & separated
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (USE this… it helps stabilize the egg whites which is important in souffles)
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (no, that’s not a typo)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup whole milk (or just mix a little cream into lighter milk. Just use milk with some fat. It helps add richness and height)
  • 4 tablespoons peppermint schnapps
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 8 ounces good quality white chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 crushed candy canes
  1. In a microwave safe bowl, combine the white chocolate, cream. 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract, 2 tablespoons of the schnapps and butter. Microwave in one minute increments, stirring after each, until melted. Set aside.
  2. In a medium heavy bottomed sauce pan, beat the egg yolks with the 4 tablespoons sugar. Add the flour and beat just until blended.
  3. Slowly beat in the milk & 2 tablespoons of the schnapps.
  4. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick. Don’t boil. Do NOT get bored and walk away. You’ll regret it. Please don’t ask how I know this.
  5. Cool the egg mixture until it is barely warm. Stir the white chocolate mixture into it.
  6. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Butter and sugar 4 individual souffle dishes.
  7. In a VERY clean preferably glass, bowl (make sure it is squeaky clean or your whites won’t rise), beat your egg whites with the cream of tartar until foamy. Add in the 1 tablespoon sugar. Beat until stiff.
  8. Pour the egg and chocolate mixture into a large clean bowl. Fold the beaten whites into the yolk mixture; about half at a time. Make sure no white streaks remain.
  9. Bake at 375 for about 35 minutes or until they are puffy, set and lightly browned. They can move but they shouldn’t jiggle. The center should look dry. Use just your oven light to check them because it doesn’t take much in the way of cool air to deflate a souffle.
  10. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the crushed candy canes. Serve immediately. Souffles wait for no one. πŸ˜€

Are You Feeling Crafty??

Hello dear readers, fellow bloggers and those who come here to roll their eyes and sneer. I need some advice. We have realized that we can not afford even one Christmas present for my boys who still live at home. Not even one. I thank God that we tend to be food stockpilers so that I have an ample supply of baking foods and other stuff to make Christmas (and the blog) merry with yummy foods. But it still kills me to have to tell my boys that I can’t afford to give them Christmas presents, especially since my youngest, at three, is having his first year of talking about Santa Claus and asking what Santa is going to bring him. Moving tapped us out money wise and our bills are higher now. We can make ends meet but there is absolutely NOTHING in the budget for extras and since we moved rather quickly, I hadn’t thought to save extra towards Christmas or to stockpile gifts early. So I need your advice.

I absolutely SUCK at crafts. I mean, really really bad with no artistic bent whatsoever. I can crochet but I can only crochet straight lines. I can draw but only if it’s in a coloring book and even then I go out of the lines πŸ˜› I can use scissors but I am probably better off with the safety type they give kids in Kindergarten. I don’t want to use food as gifts because 1) I make goodies anyway so it wouldn’t feel like a gift to my boys, just more food momma made and 2) they would scarf it down in five minutes flat and that would be that until the aching tummies happened.

But I know that some of you are the crafty sorts. So my hope is that some of you can give me ideas on some crafts to make that are doable by Christmas by a woman who can only crochet straight lines. I don’t have a whole lot in the way of supplies (that pesky money thing again lol) but I have old clothes I can cup up, paper, pens and pencils and even some fabric paints (the kinds you squeeze out of tubes) from a time when I was deluded enough to think I might be able to use them w/out covering everything in paint.

So there is where I am hoping that you, my much more talented and creative friends, can help me. I am also looking for just general ideas for Christmas gifts that aren’t necessarily crafts but are doable for free or so cheap as to make a penny cry. I think if I have to wake up Christmas morning and have my boys see a tree that is empty underneath it, I will crawl under a rock and stay there forever.

So moving on. I have an amazingly yummy and easy recipe for you today. We all know I went through an apple phase earlier in the Autumn season. Well… it’s backkkkkkkk! I found a recipe in a Southern Living Baking magazine that I had been wanting to try. I wish now I had tried it sooner because it so so simple yet with a taste that made me want to stick my face down in the frosting and never come back out. I didn’t do much to change it though what I did do made this even better than what it would have been, I believe. I added some crystallized Ginger to the cake batter, used Gala apples instead of Granny Smith because that’s what I had, added more vanilla and a slug of bourbon and added maple flavoring to the frosting. These changes put this into the realm of ove the top wonderful. Yet still very homey, very comforting and very easy with just enough batter to hold the apples together. Another bonus is that this smells like a big gigantic snickerdoodle cookie as it bakes. So give this a try. I think you’ll like it.

Apple Ginger Cake With A Browned Butter Maple Frosting

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup crystallized ginger
  • 1/4 cup bourbon (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 1/2 pounds Gala apples, cored, cut into 8 wedges then each wedge cut in half (the original recipe called for peeling but I didn’t bother)
  • Frosting-
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 16 ounce box powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk (I had to use like a tablespoon or so more)
  • 1/2 tsp. maple flavoring
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast the pecans in a single layer on a cookie sheet until lightly toasted and smelling yummy, about 5 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the 1/2 cup melted butter, sugar, eggs, bourbon and vanilla extract.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and crystallized ginger.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the butter/egg mixture. Stir just until combined then add in the apple pieces and 1 cup of the pecans. The batter will be very thick; that’s who it’s supposed to be.
  5. Spread batter into a lightly greased 13×9 inch pan.
  6. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and cake it golden brown. Cool completely in the pan.
  7. FROSTING-
  8. While the cake is baking, start your frosting.
  9. Cook the 1 cup butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until the butter turns a golden brown. This will take about 6 minutes or so. Immediately take off of the heat and pour into a bowl. Refrigerate until the butter is just beginning to solidify.
  10. Beat the butter in a medium bowl until fluffy. Add in the sugar, milk and maple flavoring. Beat together until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Trust me… the more you beat, the lighter and fluffier most butter based frostings become. Keep beating.
  11. Spread the frosting on the cooled cake and sprinkle on the 1/2 cup of pecans.
  12. Eat. Moan. Repeat.

 

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas (Foodbuzz/Glad Cookie Exchange!)

Most of you know that I am mom to six children. I have talked about them before and make no secret that they are what I consider my greatest accomplishments in life. I have been blessed in that all six of them, despite my one son being a special needs child for other reasons, have always been physically healthy, Sure, there have been illnesses but nothing life threatening and nothing that went beyond momentarily frightening.

Not all parents and not all children have been that lucky though. Many face this time of year fighting not only to keep the joy of the season but being forced to watch as their children fight for their lives.

Pediatric cancer is the number one cause of death by disease in children in the United States. Why does this happen in a highly developed country you ask? Money. Plain and simple… lack of money. It’s frightening to think that children die because of a bad cash flow but they do. Cures take research and research takes money and that is something that is lacking in the fight against pediatric cancer.

Knowing how blessed I am in the health of my children, I definitely wanted in when Foodbuzz and Glad offered me the chance to do a very small part in the fight against pediatric cancer. The Glad company is sponsoring a cookie exchange to fight cancer, called
The Glad Products Company’s Glad To Give Campaign with the money raised going to Cookies For Kids Cancer . I was ecstatic when I was accepted to blog about this issue. If the cookies I have made make even a few dollars for this cause in a virtual exchange, I’m thrilled!

That site was founded by Gretchen Witt, a mom who lost her son Liam in January of 2011. Liam was diagnosed with cancer in 2007 at the age of 2. Liam’s parents learned then that a full quarter of children with cancer don’t survive because of the lack of funding for research. Sadly, Liam fell into that group. But by the time he passed away, his mother had already founded Cookies For Kids Cancer. It’s a non profit organization that helps people host bake sales or cookie exchanges with the money raised going towards cancer research.

So how can you help? First, go to www.facebook.com/glad and host a virtual cookie exchange., Gather a few friends, email your family members and get everyone over there. The very generous Glad Company will donate ten cents for every cookie sold, exchanged or given during the months of November and December 2011. Second. go to www.cookiesforkidscancer.org and make a donation. Think of every single child you know who enjoys good health and donate for their sake. Go to the site and read the stories of some the children. Donate for THEIR sake. Donate in memory of Liam. Donate because this should NOT be the problem it is in America. Not in this day and age. Donate because I actually wrote a serious post and that alone is worth something.

So what did I make for MY virtual cookie exchange? I wanted to stay classic with mine with things everyone would like. So I made Linzer Cookies and Iced Sugar Cookies. Please keep in mine that I have honestly admitted before that my decorating skills lack…well… skill. In other words, I stink at it. I love to bake and do it often but my artistic skills line in being able to stay in the lines in a coloring book not in making elegant or gorgeous cookies lol. But you know what? They taste good. So make some of these cookies and go have a cookie exchange. Make some money so other parents don’t lose their children too soon.

The Linzer cookies came from Good Housekeeping. I like these because they use ground pecans instead of the typical ground almonds and you know me, I have to be different. I added almond extract though because I am a sad portrait of an addict. The sugar cookies came from food.com and the only thing I changed was to add extra of both the almond and vanilla extracts as well as an extra quarter cup of sugar. Plus I used a non stick cookie sheet and did fine without the use of parchment paper.

Raspberry Filled Linzer Cookies

  1. 8 ounces pecans
  2. 1/2 cup cornstarch
  3. 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temp
  4. 1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
  5. 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  6. 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
  7. 3/4 teaspoon salt
  8. 1 large egg
  9. 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  10. 3/4 cup seedless raspberry jam (obviously you can sub your favorite flavor)
  • In your food processor, pulse pecans and cornstarch until pecans are finely ground.
  • In large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and 1 cup powdered sugar until mixed. Increase speed to high; beat 2 minutes or until light and fluffy, occasionally scraping bowl. At medium speed, beat in vanilla, salt, and egg. Reduce speed to low; gradually beat in flour and pecan mixture just until blended, occasionally scraping bowl.
  • Divide dough into 4 equal pieces; flatten each into a disk.
  • Wrap each with plastic wrap and refrigerate 4 to 5 hours or until dough is firm enough to roll.
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Remove 1 dough round from the fridge; let stand 10 to 15 minutes at room temperature for easier rolling, unless you’re really looking for an arm workout.
  • This dough is very very soft if not chilled well so do NOT however let it get too “unchilled” or it it will stick to your cutters, your counter, your clothes. Please don’t ask how I know this.
  • On lightly floured surface, with floured rolling pin, roll dough 1/8 inch thick.
  • With floured 21/4-inch fluted round, plain round, or holiday-shaped cookie cutter, cut dough into as many cookies as possible. With floured 1- to 11/4-inch fluted round, plain round, or holiday-shaped cookie cutter, cut out centers from half of cookies. Wrap and refrigerate trimmings. With lightly floured spatula, carefully place cookies, 1 inch apart, on ungreased large cookie sheet.
  • Bake cookies 17 to 20 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining dough and trimmings.
  • When cookies are cool, sprinkle remaining 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar through sieve over cookies with cutout centers.
  • In small bowl, stir jam with fork until smooth. Spread scant measuring teaspoon jam on top of whole cookies; place cutout cookies on top. Store cookies, with waxed paper between layers, in tightly covered container at room temperature up to 1 week or in freezer up to 2 months. (If cookies are stored in freezer, you may need to sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar again before serving.)

Iced Sugar Cookies
  1. 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  2. 1 1/4 cup sugar
  3. 2 eggs
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  5. 1 teaspoon almond extract
  6. 3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  7. 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  8. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  9. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  10. FROSTING-
  11. 2 cup SIFTED powdered sugar
  12. 1 tablespoon (or more; I ended up with a full 3 tablespoons) milk
  13. 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  14. 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • In a large bowl, combine the butter with the sugar, eggs and extracts. Beat on high speed until light and fluffy
  • In another smaller bowl, mix together your dry ingredients (not the frosting ones of course…just making sure to cover that πŸ˜› )
  • Stir the dry ingredients into all that buttery goodness.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic or put into gallon sized baggies and refrigerate this for at least 2 hours.
  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. I actually did mine at 375 because in the past, I have just found that anything above that for most cookies leads to burned edges.
  • On a lightly floured board or counter, roll out dough to about a 1/4 inch thickness
  • Cut into nice Christmasy shapes. Do at least ONE Christmas tree… because I said you have to. It’s the law.
  • Put 2 inches apart on either a parchment sheet lined cookie sheet or a non stick one.
  • Bake until firm and very lightly browned around the edges, about 4 to 6 minutes if you do it at 400 or about 10 at 375.
  • Let cool COMPLETELY before icing.
  • For frosting, mix together the powdered sugar with the tablespoon milk (don’t add more yet; wait to see if it needs it until after you’ve added the other ingredients).
  • Beat in the corn syrup and extract; keep beating until smooth and shiny. NOW add more milk if it is too thick for spreading.
  • The easiest way to frost the cookies is just to dip them in the icing. Let the excess drip off.
  • Decorate them while the frosting is still wet so that whatever sprinkles you put on will stick. This dries hard so you won’t be able to do that if you wait.
As part of a Tastemaker Program with Foodbuzz, as a Featured Publisher, I received a Baking Kit with baking supplies from The Glad Company to use while making cookies for The Cookies For Kids Cancer Cookie Exchange as well as a stipend to cover costs.
Remember, go to www.facebook.com/glad to host your own virtual cookie exchange and/or go to http://www.cookiesforkidscancer.org to register a cookie sale or donate to help fund research helping Pediatric Cancer