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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Cookie Exchange or Gift Ideas

I totally want to do a cookie exchange. It seems everyone is so busy, there's not enough time. Somehow, someday I am going to do it. In the meantime enjoy some of my favorite ideas, with a bit of help from Betty Crocker.

Russian Tea Cookies click for recipe

Pecan Shortbread click for recipe

Peppermint Shortbread Bites click for recipe. If you live by me you may be getting this...I have to have an excuse to make them, and don't want to eat them all. Lucky You!

Poinsettia Blossoms- these are so cute and colorful.

Thumbprint Cookies- these remind me of my Mom. She used Hershey Kisses instead of jelly.

Biscotti (this is a family favorite and my version of Betty's biscotti)

White Chocolate Biscotti
 1 pouch            Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie mix
1/3 c.               margarine or butter, softened
1                                egg
¼ c.                 flour
½ c.                 macadamia nuts
1 c.                  white chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients together until stiff dough forms. Roll out dough into 2 rectangles. The rectangle should be about 8 X 2 ½ inches. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes on ungreased cookie sheet. Cool 15 minutes.

Cut each rectangle crosswise into ¾ inch slices. Place cut sides down on cookie sheet and bake 5-6 minutes, then turn and bake second cut side an additional 5-6 minutes. Cool on racks.

Melt an additional ½ c. of chocolate in the microwave on High for 30-60 seconds. Drizzle over cooled cookie. Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

For variety you could omit the white chocolate and macadamia nuts and do semi sweet or dark chocolate with pecans or hazelnuts. You could also add chopped cherry flavored craisins. 

Now that you're all starving, pick one of these and let me know what you think. Many things like sugar cookies or chocolate chip cookies, you can make now and freeze for later. Happy Holiday Baking!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Leftovers to Good Use

Are you sick of turkey yet? We had enough to last 5 extra meals. We made Shepherd's Pie, sandwiches and soups. With the last of the mashed potatoes I made....

Potato Cheese Soup
1 can. chicken stock
2 Tbsp. butter
1/4 c. flour
2 c. mashed potatoes
2 c. milk
3 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp. onion flake
1 c. chunked or shredded cheddar cheese.

Make a roux using butter and flour until the butter absorbs all the flour and it looks like crumbly butter. Add chicken stock, milk, spices and bring to boil. Add mashed potatoes. Boil until the mashed potatoes are warmed through and the soup has a smooth texture.Add cheese and serve.

This was an easy way to use up leftovers. You could also use this as a base and add veggies, bacon or ham or other toppings to round it out.

We served this with grilled cheese sandwiches and it was an easy lunch!

Happy Leftovers! Bring on the Christmas baking and present making!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Welcome Winter

It's here...November 9th and snow is finally here. Global Warming rocks! I've enjoyed 70 degree weather in October and November....whatever, so what if we'll all die of GW effects--we all gotta go sometime.

I hate snow. It is cold. It is wet. It is hard to drive through. 
But staying at home, it is enjoyable.

 The kids were brave, and ran out into the snow. For 90 minutes they lived it up. They built "Joe Bob-Billy Bob Brown, and he is living happily in our backyard.

 D. was very concerned that the snowman had to be named before she came inside. So everyone got to choose a name, and for argument's sake La-La combined them all so we could come in and get warm.

Who knew the snow could make such "warm" memories? These girls are so good to each other.

Hot cocoa and marshmallows for everyone! If you can't beat the snow, at least enjoy it. Happy Winter!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Quit Complaining...Just Be Thankful

"I once complained that I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet."

You've probably seen this around. It's been on the internet for awhile. I actually experienced this type of thankfulness almost everyday while I was employed at the local food bank and homeless shelter. Our society is so embedded in needing things and getting the newest things, we rarely stop to think about what is really important.

My mom used to say, "can't take it with you." I guess that ideology got stuck in my brain, because as an adult I clearly have different priorities than those around me. I am grateful to live in a place where I can have my own ideals and opinions and be able to speak about them without fear.

Today is Election Day. I don't care who you support, but for goodness sake VOTE. You can't complain about what's happening in our country if you choose to be apathetic and do nothing. Although many feel "their vote doesn't count" we all have to do it. Otherwise apathy will take over and everyone's rights will be subject to violation. Get out and do it today. It's a blessing we should be thankful for, not apathetic about.

Continuing with our family tradition of voicing our thankfulness we sat down today to list our blessings. It goes without saying we are so happy to have a nice home, clothing, food, health care and good health, family and friends and our faith. The point of this tradition isn't to gloss over the obvious, but to really dig deep and think about how dramatically different life would be without the things we rarely think about. This year we are grateful for: new found talents, indoor plumbing, On Demand TV, baptism, the ability to read, freedom, time, online shopping and new opportunities.

My challenge for my readers: Think about a new blessing each day of this month. Many are posting on Facebook or Twitter, some on their own blogs or in emails. Anyway you do it, count your blessings.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Swedish Meatballs

Swedish Meatballs

You know those meals you thought were so gross as a kid? Liver and Onions? Stir Fry? Cowboy's Delight? Well sometimes as we grow up, we realize that once in awhile you need to return to meals like that to reclaim comfort. Of course no one here dislikes anything set before them at the nightly family meal. That doesn't happen here. Everyone eats and loves every single meal I make. I swear I was born to do nothing but bring pleasing meals to the dinner table every night (inserting lots of sarcasm HERE).

I don't make any of those above mentioned recipes, but recently I was messing around with my basic Stroganoff recipe (based upon my childhood memories) and found a new comfort food that my kids will NEVER think is gross. This is great for big family meals, for entertaining or potlucks.

Swedish Meatballs

1. Bake 20-25 pre-made meatballs according to package directions. Or if you are really brave you can make your own. I don't, that would require I touch raw meat, and we all know that is a rule I can't break.

2. Make your favorite rice...we like brown, but anything works.

3. Stir together 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup, 1 can beef broth, 1 c. low fat sour cream in a pot and bring to a simmer. Add onion flake to taste and one small can or one package fresh mushrooms. Cook the mushrooms down until the sauce becomes a gravy like consistency. If you need help thickening I use poultry gravy mix. It gives the sauce flavor as well as thickness. Toss a tablespoon or two into the sauce until desired consistency is reached.

The rest is stupid easy. Put the rice on a plate, cover with sauce and top with meatballs. My kids like Parmesan cheese sprinkled over the top.

Serve with crusty French bread, steamed green beans and a side salad, maybe some applesauce. Seriously good comfort food that will provide your family with lots of good memories.