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Posts from ‘December, 2009’

Favorite Christmas treats

In my last post I mentioned some new things I had been baking in recent days. I also hope to make a couple of old recipes too. One of my very favorite cookies are these snowballs. My mom didn't bake much during the year, but she always made some of these for Christmas. They are very simple to make but they are so good. You may already have a recipe similar to this one in your file.

1 cup (or 2 sticks) butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
Additional powdered sugar for rolling

Cream butter and then add powdered sugar and vanilla. Mix in flour and chopped nuts. Form into small balls a little smaller than a walnut. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 mins. Cookies should be brown on the bottom only. Let cool slightly and then roll in additional powdered sugar. After they cool a bit more roll in the sugar a second time to give them a more "snowy" appearance. Makes about three dozen.

picture of Raw Snow Balls

picture of Sugaring Snow Balls

Another family favorite is this peanut butter fudge. This is another recipe I got years ago from that recipe program on the radio. It, too, is very simple, but very good. Mrs. Pra---, who used to teach in the RTV department at school gave this recipe and said that her boys called pieces of this fudge erasers because it looks like those brown art gum erasers. It is good plain, but over the top with the chocolate layer added. Sorry there's no picture--haven't made this one yet.

Peanut Butter Erasers
2/3 cup evaporated milk
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup chocolate chips

Combine evaporated milk and sugar in a saucepan and cook to softball stage (a drop of the mixture with form a ball when dropped in a cup of cold water. The ball will be soft and will flatten when you try to pick it up on your finger.) Stir constantly while this mixture is cooking and be sure to use a big enough pan as the sugar mixture will froth up.
Remove the pan from the heat and then add the peanut butter. Stir the fudge until it is about the consistency of runny mashed potatoes and then quickly pour it into a buttered 7" x 11" pan. Immediately sprinkle the chocolate chips on top and let sit for about 5 mins. until the chips soften and you can spread them on top of the fudge. Let cool completely and cut into pieces. Enjoy your delicious fudge!


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New Christmas Cookies

I've tried a couple of new Christmas cookie recipes this year from the King Arthur Flour recipe website. I love their Baker's Banter Blog. They post recipes a couple of times a week with step-by-step pictorial directions. It is interesting to read about the new products and new recipes. The cookie recipes I have tried have been very good and all of these cookie recipes feature dough that can be made ahead.

Last weekend I made these butter pecan cookies. I didn't have any of the unusual flavorings so I just used 1 Tbsp. vanilla. The combination of the butterscotch chips, toasted pecans, and the sugar/salt coating is very good.

picture of Butter Pecan Cookie

I also made this Mandelbrot, which my husband, the former German teacher,told me means Almond Bread. These cookies are like biscotti. The recipe on the blog uses walnuts, but since I had a large bag of almonds I used those along with the chocolate chips. These are delicious!

picture of Mandelbrot

I also recently tried these Cranberry Pistachio cookies from a blog called Joy of Baking.

picture of Cranberry Cookies

My friend, Cheri, shared some fresh pistachios received as a gift from a relative in California. The green pistachios and red cranberries made a very pretty and tasty cookie. These are a refrigerator cookie and the dough can be made well advance of when you bake the cookies and refrigerated or frozen. I can remember my Aunt Hazel making refrigerator cookies when I was a little girl -- long before you could buy refrigerated cookie dough in the grocery store.

picture of Refrigerator Cookie Dough

How about you out there in blog-land -- have you tried any new cookie recipes this year that you are willing to share?


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Soup weather

From the news I've seen lately it sounds like it's been cold just about everywhere this week. It's actually 41 degrees here today, but it has been damp and windy the last few days making it seem even colder. These cold, blustery days are perfect for soup.

DD Megan posted a link for this recipe for delicious Cheeseburger Soup on her blog a while back. I tried it during the time she and her family were here visiting a couple of weeks ago and made it again this morning. I made a few changes to lighten it up just a bit. Here's my version:

Cheeseburger Soup
1/2 pound ground beef
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
3 cups water
1 Tbsp. chicken soup base
4-5 medium size potatoes, peeled and diced
3/4 cup instant potato flakes
8 oz. diced velveeta cheese (or cheese of your choice)
1 cup milk
dash of pepper

Brown beef in soup kettle. Drain off fat and then add onion and cook until it wilts. Add water, Italian seasoning, soup base, and potatoes. Cook about 10 mins. or until potatoes are tender. Stir in the potato flakes and cook a minute or two to thicken. Add the milk and heat through. Add the cheese cubes and stir until they melt. Serve and enjoy!

picture of Cheeseburger Soup


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Christmas Decorations

Since we celebrated Thanksgiving a little late we just got our Christmas decorations up this past weekend. I will be the first to admit that I'm a reluctant decorator. I agonize over decorating decisions knowing that I'm going to have to live with my choices for a long time. Fortunately I have a dear daughter who majored in interior decorating. She is not working in that field any more, but she still helps me with my decorating decisions. I especially miss her help when it comes to Christmas decorating.

Back in the last millennium when Nora still lived at home she made us these paper cubes that we can put on our Christmas tree lights.

picture of Paper Cube

The first set lasted through seven or eight Christmases and then she made us a new set a couple of years ago. I think she got the idea from a Martha Stewart magazine. (I found a number of sites on-line with directions when I googled folded paper cubes.) She made them from copy paper. I love the way they look on our tree and the way they diffuse the light.

picture of Christmas Tree

I did make something new for our decor this year for our Thanksgiving centerpieces. I got the idea at a blog called 320 Sycamore. I couldn't find the exact glassware that she purchased, but came up with this combination at our local Dollar Tree. For Thanksgiving there were colorful leaves in the outer glasses and now for Christmas they contain nandina berries and leaves.

picture of Christmas Candle

Here's a picture of our cat, Clementine in her favorite spot each December:

picture of Clemmie Under Tree

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I'm thankful we could all spend a few days together last week. Meg, Jim, and Drew came down the day after Thanksgiving and spent the following week with us. Those of us who live in the area had to start back to work but tried to arrange our schedules to spend as much time as possible with them while they were here. It almost seemed like Christmas vacation to me because we had big family dinners and played games in the evening.

We also spent a lot of time playing with Drew. Here are a few pictures showing some of our activities:

Drew loves this library book about Thomas the train.

picture of Drew Reading Thomas

Rob loved reading to Drew.

picture of Drew and Poppy Reading

Megan and Jim love reading too.

picture of Megan Reading

picture of Jim Reading

Drew hasn't quite gotten the concept of aunts and uncles yet. He calls Katie Uncle Katie. Here she is reading to him and Mark.

picture of Drew, Katie, and Mark

Nora is a nanny and she brought Samuel over one morning to play with Drew and the trains.

picture of Nora, Samuel, and Drew

Since we had a houseful of people here for meals I was able to pull out some recipes that I rarely make for just the two of us. I made this Cornbread Casserole one evening and several family members asked for the recipe so I thought I'd post it here for them. I originally got this recipe from a radio program on WMUU (a local Christian radio station) many years ago. Barbara R. was the hostess of the program and Willie T., one of the announcers who pastors a local church gave the recipe. He said that a lady from his church would always bring it to church dinners and there was never any left. We ate it up before I could take a picture.

Cornbread Casserole
1 batch cornbread (recipe follows)
1 stalk celery, sliced
1 small onion, chopped
1 Tbsp. oil or butter
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of celery soup
1 egg
a pinch of sage or poultry seasoning
2 cups of chicken broth
1-2 cups of chopped cooked chicken or turkey

Saute the onion and celery in the oil or melted butter until the vegetables are tender. Crumble cornbread. Combine with other ingredients in a greased crockpot. Cook on high for 2 hours or low for about 4 hours. (You could also bake this in the oven at 350 degrees for about an hour.)
Makes 5-6 servings, depending on appetites.

Basic Cornbread
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
4 tsps. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 cup cornmeal
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup oil

Stir together dry ingredients. Mix together milk, eggs, and oil and then stir into the dry ingredients just until they are moistened. Pour into a greased and floured 9" cake pan and bake at 425 degrees for about 20 mins or until cornbread tests done.



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