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Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap!

Here they are! Here are the cookies that were sent to three people that I was matched up with for The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.  I have to say that this is the first time that I have participated in a cookie swap with people that I did not know.

It was such fun, and I plan on participating next year.  Let me show you what I received from my matches that sent me cookies.

how cute are these?????

First, I received cookies from ApronofGrace.  Let me just say how much I loved her care package.  Mary of Apronofgrace even sent me a lovely handmade heirloom apron.  Wow it is beautiful.  It was so thoughtful to include a little something and i will certainly do that next year for my next matches.

This picture does not do this apron justice!

Then I received my other two care packages.  These cookies were a healthy mint chocolate chip.  Very different, but good.  The next picture is the third care package I received.  They were a slice and bake type cookie, very colorful!  I dont think the photo does them justice.

I am thankful to my matches for all their hard work in putting together such nice packages.  I cannot wait until next year to particpate again and make more new friends!

OK... now let me give you my recipe for my Peanut Butter Cup Cookies.

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of butter
2 eggs
1 tsp. of vanilla bean paste
1/2 tsp of salt
1 cup of peanut butter
1 tsp. of baking soda
3 c. of flour
1-2 bags of miniture peanut butter cups

Cream sugars and butter, then add in eggs, baking soda, salt, vanilla, and peanut butter.  Mix in flour one cup at a time.  Roll dough into 1 inch balls, and place in mini muffin pans.  I usually use about four of these mini muffin pans.  Bake at 375 for about 15 mins until just golden.... (they will look like little muffins) then as soon as you take them out of the oven stick an unwrapped peanut butter cup in each one. (work quickly, and have your candy unwrapped ahead of time).  Put in refrigerator to harden and then you should be able to gently twist them out.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Homemade Turkey Stock

Liquid Gold!!!!!!!! thats what I call homemade stock.... I just love using this stuff in my casserole and other skillet dishes.  I made two turkey breasts this year for Thanksgiving and did not want to just toss the two breast bones so i used them, along with some seasonings to make a bone broth.  Bone broth on its own is very, very good for you, not to mention its what a flavorfull soup is made of.  I think I will try a cannelli bean, sausage and kale soup with some of this broth. Oh Yeah!!!!

To make this put your turkey breast bones in a stockpot and just fill up with water to cover the bones. 

I added 1 tsp of onion powder
1 tsp of tyme, marjorum, pepper
1 tsp cajun seasoning

Bring to a boil, bring down to a simmer and cook for about 2 1/2 hours.  Pour through a strainer into containers and freeze.  Defrost the day before you need to use it in a recipe.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Can I tell you something?  In all my years of making thanksgiving dinner I have never bothered to make cranberry sauce.  I really have no reason except that I was under the impression that no one liked it.  Well, I guess not too many people like the store bought stuff, which in my opinion, leaves something to be desired. But after making it myself, I have a new found love for the REAL THING.  You must try it at least once to understand how delicious homemade cranberry sauce can be.

Homemade Cranberry-Orange Sauce

1 12oz. pkg of fresh Cranberries
1 cup of water
1 cup of sugar
The zest and juice of one orange

put all the ingredients in a heavy bottom saucepan and cook on medium heat until the mixture boils.  Boil for about 3 mins and then turn on simmer and cook for roughly 10 mins.  During this time you may mash with a potato masher, the berries that have not burst.  Transfer to a glass bowl and cool.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.  Thats it!!! its that easy....

Monday, November 7, 2011

Twice Baked Potatoes with Fresh Parsley, Rosemary and Chives

All I have to say is YUMMY!!!!! who, I ask you, does not like a twice baked potato?  My family LOVES when I take the time to make them; and depending on how much you dress these babies up, you may not even notice the other players on your plate.

Here we go with the "Recipe" ......

4 medium Idaho Baking Potatoes
1 stick of butter (melted)
1/2 cup cour cream
1/2 to 3/4 cup whipping cream (warmed)
1 Tbsp. of fresh chopped Italian Parsley
1 Tbsp. of fresh chives
1/4 tsp. of fresh rosemary
1/2 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese (plus 1/2 cup for sprinkling on top of the potatoes)

Wash and dry your potatoes and prick well with fork.  Bake them on a foil lined pan at 375' for about 1 1/2 hours.  Test with a sharp knife, for doneness.  Let the potatoes cool a bit and then cut each one lengthwise.  Scoop out potato meat leaving a bit behind to hold the skin together.  In a mixing bowl combine very warm potatoes with warmed butter and milk.  Add in sour cream and the remaining ingredients.  You can whip until smooth or leave a little chunky, its your thang, do what you want to do.

Scoop potato mixture back into shells and top with cheddar cheese.  You can now refrigerate until baking time or bake right away if you choose.  Bake potatoes at 375 for about 30 minutes or until bubbly if using right away, or remove potatoes from fridge and let come to almost room temp and bake as directed. This recipe will serve 8.

Now... with all that said, its really up to you just how much of each ingredient you want or need in your potatoes.  This is a guide...if you like more sour cream, add it.  If you would like to top these with some cooked crumbled bacon in addition to the cheese, add it.  If you don't want to use a full fat milk, use a lesser fat milk.  As with most receipes I make, I change things up where I can.  Do not be afraid of doing your own thing its how we learn what does and doesn't work. 

Come join the fun at the My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Swap sponsored by Shenandoah Growers Organic Fresh Herbs.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Cheez-It and Oreo Bark

I have to say that this is just one of those recipes that no matter what you add in it, you really cannot go wrong.  I first saw this posted on vanilla sugar's blog (I love her blog) and just had to try it.  I have actually made it for a work luncheon one time before.  I think the salty-sweet snack satisfies so much more than just sweet or salty.  This is a real easy thing to make with the kids, since the only cooking involved is melting the chocolate.

Cheez-it and Oreo Bark

2 12oz packages of white chips
1 1/2 cups of Cheez-its
1 1/2 cups of bite sized Oreos
2 tsp to 1 tbsp. of shortening

In the top of a double boiler, melt the white chocolate chips, then add 2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon of shortening.  Once the chocolate is all melted, stir in your cheez-its and oreo's and coat them well.  Pour into a 13 X 9 foil lined pan and spread out.  Refrigerate until hard, then cut into pieces.  I have an Ulu knife that my friend brought back for me from Alaska, which is just perfect for jobs like this because of its round blade.

Get creative, you can also use pretzels, or try some lightly crushed plain potato chips, or some peanut butter sandwich cookies...dried fruit such as cranberries, make it your own.  You can also change out the shortning for coconut oil as long as it is the refined coconut oil.  The unrefined will add a slight coconut taste.

By the way, this would make a great gift for anyone on your list!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Mmmmm.... Cake Balls!

Well, I finally did it....yep I tried my hand at cake balls. Thanks to my Niece Ms. Nikki, whose undyling devotion to them lit a fire under me to make them.

They looked really easy to make..  A baked cake, mix in some frosting and roll them and chill them and dip them....have you heard of the old saying "harder then it looks"?  Well, I don't want to turn anyone off of making these, but let me give a couple of tips to all of you out there ready and willing to try their hand at cake balls.  First though, here are the ingredients.

1 box cake mix any flavor made according to package directions
1 can of store bought frosting( make your own if you dont like store bought)
1 bag of Wilton candy melts or Almond Bark (white or chocolate) you can also use two bags of white or chocolate chips
Shortning to thin out dipping bark

First....bake your cake the night before you want to dip them, there are many flavor combindations out there by the way.  Let cake cool until warm.    At that point you want to go ahead and crumble your cake mix and mix in your frosting together until the frosting is well incorporated and roll the mixture into balls. 

Pumkin Cake and Cream Cheese Frosting

Second, chill them overnight in the refrigerator for best a lot of people would say freeze them, and you most certainly can do that also, but a good chilling is what i found to be workable as long as you are quick (yes,.... yes, i did learn this as i went along... thanks for asking)

German Chocolate Cake with Pecan Coconut Frosting

The photo above is of the German Chocolate cake balls just rolled and ready for chilling.  Third, don't be like me, an overachiever in the kitchen, who just HADDD to make two different kinds.  Try to control yourself and make ONE box cake mix according to the directions and mix in ONE can of store bought frosting and get on with your life....Next, melt your almond bark or candy coating disks in a double boiler...with a teaspoon or two of shortening....( i used coconut oil for the chocolate balls because its better for you, but more expensive) once coating is melted dip balls into the coating using a fork or dipping tool.  I also used a toothpick to help when transferring them from the dipping to a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Chill on a cookie sheet in the refrigerator for at least one hour before transferring to container. You should also put on sprinkles or any other decoration while the balls are still wet.

Drum Roll Please..... and here are the cake balls dipped and decorated!   My kitchen most certainly did not look as pretty.  Are cake balls worth the work?  Yes definately!  One last thing....I do not really care for the taste of the candy melts so i mixed in half a bag of chocolate chips in with the candy disks for the German Chocolate and used white chocolate chips for the Pumpkin Balls coating.  The family went crazy for them.  Not bad for a Sunday in the kitchen.  Can ya just taste these Nikkers?

Here is the pan of them that i am bringing to work.......Not to shabby!!!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Whats For Dinner Mom?

That question must be asked in 99.9% of households not only in America, but all over the world!  How we moms manage to answer that question everynight can be a challenge to our sanity.  Some nights there is no question whats for dinner, and other nights we cringe at the thought of having to do one more thing. But... if we plan ahead, and take small shortcuts when we can, then its relatively easy to pull off the daily "whats for dinner mom?" question.

So.... what WAS for dinner tonight mom?  Well, tonight in a matter of one hour, I put together a dinner of barbecued pork tenderloin along with some yellow rice and sauteed green and yellow squash.  A simple meal, but one that tonight received comments of: "Wow, that squash looks so good" and "Mmm.. this pork tenderloin is soooo good".  Lets take a look at what we had.

Yellow and Green Squash

Barbeque Pork Tenderloins

Yellow Rice

Yes...that was what was for dinner......

For the pork tenderloin I simply rinsed it and sprinkled on some salt, pepper, garlic powder and some five spice powder and rubbed them with a little olive oil and roasted them for 1 hour on 375 degrees.  For the rice I simply combined some water and olive oil and put it in a one quart casserole dish with a lid and cooked it on high for 5 minutes and then of 60% power for 15 minutes.  For the squash, a simple garlic salt and pepper mixture was used and I sauteed it in Coconut Oil and Butter until it was nice and tender.  Yes, yes, i hear you all out there....WHAT?? she didn't make the rice from scratch???? it was a no salt rice mix???  Yes, it certainly was! Good food does not have to come from scratch everyday to be really loved by our families, it just needs to be made with love.  Afterall, love is the only reason that we accomplish anything in life.  Here is hoping you try this meal with a little love for your family.