Friday, December 30, 2011

Chocolate Crackles

The recipe for this cookie comes from Farm Journal Christmas Cookbook, which I bought in 1973, before  any of my four children were born!!  It happens to be THE favorite cookie of my three sons.  It is also  embarrassingly simple how easy this cookie is.  I hope you can try this delicious tasting cookie from one of my favorite cookbooks.

1 (1 lb. 2 1/2 oz.) pkg. devil's food cake mix
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 T. water
1/2 c. shortening
confectioners sugar

Combine cake mix, eggs, water and shortening.  Mix with a spoon until well blended (I actually use my mixer for this part).

Shape dough into balls the size of small walnuts.  Roll balls in confectioners sugar (coat liberally).

Place on greased baking sheets.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for 8-10 minutes.

Makes about 48 cookies.
These are soft-textured, brownie-like cookies

I am sharing this with:
Sweets for Saturday
Tea Party Tuesday
Mrs. Fox's Sweets Party
Rock 'n Share Party
Full Plate Thursday
Foodie Friday

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Baked Gouda

I received this recipe from a co-worker long ago & it quickly became a family favorite!  It's so easy to put together & impressive to serve.  As an appetizer, you can serve it with a light wine & seedless grapes. 

1 7-ounce round Gouda cheese
1 8-ounce Pillsbury Crescent rolls
1 egg

Heat oven to 350 degrees.   Cut cheese in half horizontally to form two circles; remove wax.
Separate dough into 4 rectangles.  Firmly press perforations to seal.   Place one rectangle on top of second; repeat with remaining rectangles, making two double-thick rectangles.
Press each into a 6-inch square; place cheese circle in center of dough.

Pull corners of dough to top of center of cheese.  Press dough tightly against cheese.  Twist dough in center to seal, twisting off excess dough.  Press seams to seal.
Repeat to make second Gouda wrap.  If desired, press out excess dough.  With canape cutter or paring knife, cut out decorative shapes; place on top of each Gouda wrap.

Brush with beaten egg.  Place 3" apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake ate 350 for 18-22 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool 10 minutes before serving.  Cut into wedges to serve.

Apricot Gouda:

Coat the top of each Gouda cheese with 2 t. of apricot preserves & top with the dough.   Bake as directed, omitting the egg wash.  After baking, coat the top of the baked Gouda with 1 T.  honey & sprinkle with 1 T. toasted, sliced almonds.

This serves 8 as an appetizer or 4-6 as a snack.
Yummy, oozing cheese!

I am sharing with:

Tea Party Tuesday
Full Plate Thursday
Foodie Friday

Monday, December 26, 2011

Chow Mein Noodle Cookies

If I had to pick a favorite cookie, this one would be one of my top picks.  I started making this when I was a Girl Scout.   Of course, all the rage now is salt on top of cookies.  Who knew that this cookie was fashionable before it's time, because it has salty nuts in it?!!  This recipe also makes adorable nests for Easter time.  This is a great, easy, no-bake recipe.    I personally like the butterscotch/chocolate combo, but you may like peanut butter/chocolate.

1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips                                                       
1 (5-ounce) container Chow Mein Noodles                         
1 cup of  dry roasted peanuts

Melt the chips together in a microwave-safe bowl.    I do this  on 50% power at 1 minute intervals, stirring in between.  When melted,  add the Chow Mein noodles & the peanuts and stir until everything is coated.

Drop the cookies by spoonsful onto cookie sheets that have been covered with wax paper.  Chill in fridge until firm & then transfer to covered containers.  YUM!!!

I am sharing with:
Mrs. Fox's Sweets Party
Full Plate Thursday
Foodie Friday
Sweets for Saturday

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Pine Cone Cheese Ball

I got this recipe from a Southern Living  magazine and have been making it during the holidays for many, many years.  It is so good, easy & really pretty.  You can make one large pinecone or 2 smaller ones.  Some of our grandkids love it, too, so I make one for them.  Here's this wonderful recipe.

1 (8-ounce) container vegetable cream cheese                         
1 (8-ounce) container onion & chive cream cheese
   (the original recipe called for roasted garlic , but
    I can't ever find it!!)
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
3 green onion, chopped
2 cups pecan halves, toasted
Fresh rosemary sprigs

Stir together 4 ingredients.  Shape into an oval; chill 2 hours.

Arrange pecan halves over cheese oval in overlapping rows beginning at the bottom & working upward.  Arrange rosemary sprigs at top of pinecone.  Serve with crackers.

Yield:  16 servings.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Caramel Fudge Squares

I tasted these at a party years ago & had to get the recipe.  They are so scrumptious, chewy & wonderful!!  Recently I saw on, that my blogging friend, Anita,  used Kraft Caramel  Bits in place of the caramels that need to be unwrapped.  Woo-hoo & Alleluia!!!! I'm telling you, the bits are such a time-saver, you won't believe it.  If you need a decadent bar cookie to add to your repertoire, I hope you give this a try.

1 package of Kraft Caramel Bits (or a 14 oz. pkg of caramels)
1 pkg. of German Chocolate cake mix
3/4 cup butter, melted
2/3 c. evaporated milk, divided                                                        
1/2-1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup chocolate chips

Grease a 9 x 13" pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine caramel bits & 1/3 cup evaporated milk.  Cook over low heat, stirring often until caramel melts & is smooth.

Combine dry cake mix, butter, the other 1/3 cup of evaporated milk & nuts.  Stir just until mixed.  Press half of dough into pan.  You will have to use your hands to pat it down.  Bake 6 minutes. 

Spread caramel mixture over all & sprinkle chocolate chips on top.  Top with remaining half of dough.  Spread gently to cover.  I usually just plop the dough by spoonfuls. 

Bake for 15-18 minutes.  Let stand until cool.  Refrigerate for about 30 minutes to make cutting easier.  Cut into bars.  Eat at room temperature for pure yumminess!!

Makes about 40 bars, depending on size cut

I am sharing with:
Tea Party Tuesday
Mrs. Fox's Sweets Party
Full Plate Thursday
Foodie Friday
Sweets for Saturday

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Easy Santa Hats

I first saw these at  a friend's blog & then again at  I wanted to try them for a luncheon I was attending, but did them a super quick & easy way.  You could use a buttercream  or a cream cheese frosting in place of the aerosol whipped cream, but those watching their sugar intake appreciate the whipped cream!!  The only problem with the aerosol whipped cream is that you need to do this right before serving, as it starts to dissolve when sitting. 

I pouch (10.25 oz.) of brownie mix                               
Strawberries, cleaned & stems removed
aerosol whipped cream

Mix up the brownies according to directions on pouch.  Spoon batter into 24 miniature  muffin cups (you could also spread batter into prepared pan & then cut the round shape with a small glass).  Bake the brownies according to directions.  Mine baked in about 15 minutes.  Let cool a few minutes in pan & then carefully remove from muffin tin.  Let cool completely.

Pipe a circle around the brownie.  Place strawberry on top, stem side down.  Pipe a dab of whipped cream on top for Santa's hat. 

Makes 24

I am sharing with:
Seasonal Sundays
Tea Party Tuesday
Mrs. Fox's Sweets Party
Full Plate Thursday
Foodie Friday
Sweets for Saturday

Friday, December 16, 2011

Creme Brûlée

I still have mint growing in a pot!

I usually only make this once a year because it is TOO GOOD!  The recipe is from Tyler Florence & it is simply divine. Even though it is rich & sinful,  you can make small servings & still get the pleasure of enjoying it! If you've never made creme brulee, it is really quite easy.   I hope you try this (my adapations are in red) fabulous recipe!!


  • 9 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup superfine white sugar (I use regular sugar)
  • 1 quart heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean (I have also substituted a tablespoon of vanilla )


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a large bowl, cream together egg yolks and sugar with a whisk until the mixture is pale yellow and thick.

Pour cream into a medium saucepan over low heat. Using a paring knife, split the vanilla bean down the middle, scrape out the seeds and add them to saucepan. Bring cream to a brief simmer, do not boil or it will overflow. Remove from heat and temper the yolks by gradually whisking the hot vanilla cream into yolk and sugar mixture. Do not add hot cream too quickly or the eggs will cook.

Divide custard into  ramekins, about 3/4 full. (Somehow, Tyler Florence uses 6 ramekins, but ( I get 10-11 servings from this recipe & some of my ramekins are bigger than 6 ounces!).  Place ramekins in a roasting pan and fill pan with enough (hot) water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake until the creme brulee is set,  but still a little wiggly in the center,  about 40 minutes. You may want to cover loosely with foil to prevent browning. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature. Transfer the ramekins to the refrigerator and chill for 2 hours (I even make them a day ahead & chill in the fridge.)  Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sugar on top of each chilled custard (brown sugar is yummy, too!)  Hold a kitchen torch 2 inches above surface to brown the sugar and form a crust.  Garnish with fresh fruit &  a sprig of mint , if desired.   Serve at once.
Torching the sugar

NOTE:  You also can put the sugared creme brulees  under the broiler & watch very carefully!!

I am sharing this with these wonderful blog parties:
Tea Party Tuesday
Mrs. Fox's Sweets Party
Full Plate Thursday
Foodie Friday
Sweets for Saturday

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Favorite Spritz

I love making spritz cookies!!  They are so easy, no rolling involved & you have lots of cookies in a small amount of time.  I've tried many spritz recipes over the years, but always come back to this one as my favorite.  The touch of orange zest & the hint of cinnamon just make this cookie special.  The recipe comes from my very old Mirro cookie pamphlet that came with my old Mirro cookie press, which sadly broke.  I do have a new, snazzy one that is very easy to use, but I kind of miss that old aluminum one with the orange top!!  My hubby really doesn't much care for spritz cookies because he thinks they're "too bland".  However, he loves this recipe.   The recipe in the pamphet is called Snowflakes.   I hope you give  it a try!

1 cup shortening (or butter, softened)
1 3-oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1 t. vanilla
1 t. orange zest (I use the zest of one orange)
2 1/2 cup flour
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream shortening (or butter), cream cheese & sugar well.

Beat in egg yolk, vanilla & orange zest

Gradually blend in flour, salt & cinnamon which have been sifted together.

Fill press.  Form cookies on ungreased cookie sheets.  Sprinkle with any colored sugar now, before baking.

Bake for 10-12  minutes.  I only bake for 10 minutes, as I like them that way!!!  The original recipe said to bake for 12-15 minutes, but I think that's too long.

Makes 6-7 dozen
I made some royal icing, but truthfully, they taste better with just the colored sugar!

I am sharing with these wonderful blogs:

Full Plate Thursday
Foodie Friday
Tea Party Tuesday
Mrs. Fox's Sweets Party

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Jam

A scone with this jam & a cup of tea...bliss!!!

My hubby & I have been making this every Christmas for probably over 35 years now.  It's a wonderful gift for co-workers, neighbors, friends & family.  We love it & it seems like everyone that receives it, loves it, too.  Here's the recipe, if you'd like to give it a try:

Before you start, make sure you have clean, sterilized jars & put the lids in a small pan  of boiling water.  I then keep the lids on simmer, while making the jam & keep hot water  in the jars until ready to use.
1 (12-ounce) package fresh cranberries
2 (10-ounce) packages frozen strawberries, thawed (I now use a 23-24 oz container of sliced strawberries in sugar, thawed)
4 cups sugar
1 (3-ounce) package liquid pectin

Process cranberries in a food processor with the knife blade until they are coarsely chopped.

Combine cranberries, strawberries & sugar in a dutch oven; bring to a boil & cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat; add pectin to mixture.  Return to a full rolling boil; boil 1 minute, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat & skim off foam with a metal  spoon.

Quickly pour jam into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/4" headspace.  Wipe jar rims.  Cover at once with metal lids, and screw on bands.  Process in boiling-water bath for 5 minutes (or see NOTE).

Yield:  7 half pints

NOTE:  For a quick way to process the jam, check this recipe here, and follow step #7.    It works for me every time!!

I am sharing with these delightful blog parties:

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Dishes from Christmas Past

 When I pull out my Christmas dishes every year, I have such fond memories! Years ago, when we first moved to Texas, my dear hubby & I scrounged around, after Christmas,  to many Target stores,  to collect a set. We both absolutely LOVE these dishes!! My daughter & I found even more to add to the collection.  Sadly, Target quit selling them,  but  at least I have ours!

I love this cheerful plate with the "sponge" border
A friend stenciled these cute napkins

I made this "Big Star" quilt in Christmas prints
A wooden Santa in a hurricane with pine cones

I am sharing with these wonderful blog parties:

Friday, December 9, 2011

Cranberry BBQ Chicken

This is such a festive, EASY meal for the holidays!  You wouldn't think that something so simple could taste SO good, but it does!!!  I don't know where I got this recipe, but it's a good one.  Here it is:

Yield: 6
Author: Kitty
Cranberry BBQ Chicken

Cranberry BBQ Chicken


  • 6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 2 T. oil
  • 1 c. chopped onion
  • 1 can whole berry cranberry sauce
  • 1 c. BBQ sauce


  1. Brown chicken in hot oil. Season with salt & pepper. Place in 9 x 13" dish. Sprinkle with the onion.
  2. Combine the sauces & pour over the chicken. Cover with foil & bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Remove foil for the last 30 minutes. Check the chicken to make sure the juices run clear.


NOTE: I really think this could be prepared in a slow cooker & cooked on low, all day. I would skip the browning.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cranberry Orange Scones

Mmmm, I love baking during the holidays!!  The flavor or cranberry & orange together is especially wonderful.  I decided to hunt for a fabulous scone recipe with this combination.  I have tried several in the past & they just weren't what I was expecting.  I then found Ina Garten's recipe which can be found here & I was in scone heaven!!  I cut the recipe in half to make 8 scones, which are LARGE!! 

Here's the recipe:                                             

2 cups + 2 T. flour                                                 
2 T. sugar** + additional for sprinkling
1T. baking powder
1 t. kosher salt
the zest of one orange
12 T. cold, unsalted butter, diced
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 c. cold heavy cream
1/2 c. dried cranberries
1 egg beaten with 2 T. milk or water, for egg wash
heaping 1/4 c. confectioners' sugar
2 t. orange juice

**NOTE:  If you like sweeter scones, double the sugar.  I think the taste is perfect as is.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In the bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix 2 cups of flour (save the 2 T. for later), sugar, baking powder, slat & orange zest.  Add the cold butter & mix on lowest speed until the butter is the size of peas.  Combine the eggs & the heavy cream & with the mixer on low speed, slowly pour into the flour & butter mixture.  Mix until just blended.  The dough will look lumpy.  Combine the cranberries with the 2 T. flour, add to the dough & mix on low until blended.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface & knead into a ball.  I just patted the dough out into a circle which was about 3/4" thick.  This was very easy to do & then I didn't have to clean a rolling pin!!  Cut the circle into 8 wedges.  Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving plenty of room between each scone.  (You could make 2 smaller circles & then cut 6 scones from each to make 12 smaller scones.)

Brush the tops with the egg wash & sprinkle with sugar.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.  Allow to cool for 15 minutes & then whisk together the confectioners' sugar & orange juice & drizzle over the scones.

Be prepared to bite into  the most luscious scone !!

I am sharing with:

Monday, December 5, 2011

Vanilla Cake Donuts

Hurray, my donut pan arrived from Amazon just in time to make donuts with three of my grandkids!  They spent the night & we whipped up the batter & icing for them to decorate their donuts the next morning.  I got the basic recipe from, but slightly adapted it to include no spice for the little ones.  Here's the adapted recipe:

2 c. cake flour
3/4 c. sugar
2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
3/4 c. buttermilk                                                     
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 T. oil (or melted butter)
1 t. vanilla

Sift together the dry ingredients (my trick is to just use a whisk in the bowl & this mixes & aerates the dry ingredients...easy peasy!!).

Whisk in the rest of the ingredients.

Pour the batter into a greased (or sprayed) donut pan, two-thirds full.  You will use half the batter.  Save the rest for your next batch.

Bake at 425 degrees for 7-9 minutes.  Let cool in the pan for a few minutes & then turn the donuts out.

Simple Glaze

Mix powdered sugar & hot water together to get a pourable consistency.  Spread on donuts & let the kids decorate with sprinkles.

Chocolate Glaze

Melt a few chocolate chips in the microwave with a tiny bit of butter.  Add this to the leftover powdered sugar glaze for the chocolate lovers.

Woo-hoo...I can't wait to make more flavors of donuts.

Make 12 donuts
Happy donut helpers!!!

I am sharing with:

Friday, December 2, 2011

Christmas Cheer

This is a vignette I have on my kitchen island. The cute chef snowman, with menu board,  was a gift from my daughter several years ago. The miniature tree is decorated with tiny, old-fashioned cooking utensils (again from my daughter) & I have a new Anthropologie candle (half price!!) in sweet vanilla cinnamon...Mmmmm!!!

My Chef Santa stands on the counter above my sink, along with my sugar mold with candles & some greenery. Again, the Santa was a gift from my dear daughter! The Santa bell was a gift from my MIL many years ago.

I am sharing with:

Ham & Bean Soup

My hubby loves ham & bean soup.  I basically make it like my Mom always did.  Since we had a ham for Thanksgiving, I was presented with the ham bone, since everyone knows that I like to make soup.  It 's a good hearty soup for the Winter months.   It's especially good with a slice of corn bread.  Here's how you make the soup:
2 lbs. Great Northern beans
1 onion, chopped
a couple of stalks of celery, cleaned & cut into large pieces
1 meaty ham bone
salt & pepper
about 2 T. dried parsley

Pick through the beans to remove any small stones & rinse the beans well.  Cover with about 8 cups of water in a large stockpot or dutch oven.   Bring to a boil & boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat & cover the pot with a lid.  Let sit for 1 hour.

Drain the water from the beans.  Add fresh water to cover the beans by several inches.  Add the onion, celery & ham bone.  Bring to a boil & then cover & reduce heat to a simmer.  Simmer the ham & beans for 5-6 hours.  Remove the ham bone from the pot to cool for a bit & then chop the ham.  Remove the large pieces of celery.

Meanwhile, smash some of the beans with the back of a spoon  to make the soup thick & creamy.  Add more water, if necessary, depending on how thick or thin you like your soup.  Add the chopped ham back to the pot.  Add freshly ground pepper , taste for salt & add if needed.  Add the dried parsley & heat through.

This makes a lot of soup!!  You may want to cut the recipe in half.

I am sharing with:
Full Plate Thursday
Foodie Friday
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