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Monday, December 29, 2014

The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope

This was my pick for book club this year.  I picked it because someone recommended it.  I liked it, most in the book club liked it too.  It's a tad bizarre but that made for an interesting discussion:)

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

I got a little teary waiting in line for this photo.  I've always told my kids that they'll be doing this until they leave for college.  Well, I guess I realized that this is the 2nd to last photo of Max with Santa.  Claire said it's gonna be kind of creepy for her to do it alone, I'll cross that bridge when I get there I guess.  Two more years!!  Where the heck has the time gone?!  What happened to my babies?

Oops, sorry I got a little off track.

This post was to simply wish you a lovely day!  
Merry Christmas from our house to yours!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Christmas Crack

I really don't like the name of this sweet treat but it's what it's called on literally hundreds of blogs and I can't remember which one I found it on first.  It was ALL over FB last year and Tina called me and said she had this summer yummy bar "thing" and wondered if I could re-create it.  She couldn't really remember what was in it, that wasn't helpful;)   She knew that she had just never had it so since I had never made this, I gave it a go.  It wasn't it but it was yummy.

  • 50 saltine crackers (approx.)
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 cup soft brown sugar
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 cup M&M's
  1. Pre-heat oven to 325°.
  2. 9x13 jelly roll pan. Spray with cooking spray and then line pan with saltine crackers.
  3. Place butter and sugar in a medium sized pot over low medium/low heat. Stir until butter is melted. Once butter is melted, bring to a boil for exactly 3 minutes. Stir constantly.
  4. Once it's nice and bubbly, remove pan from heat and pour evenly over saltine crackers. Spread mixture with a knife... however it doesn't have to be perfect. Try to move fast during this part so the toffee doesn't harden.
  5. Place pan in oven and bake for 7-8 minutes. The mixture will spread evenly over the crackers as it bakes.
  6. Remove pan from oven and then sprinkle the chocolate chips on top of the toffee while it's still hot. Let the chocolate chips melt for a few minutes and then spread all over the toffee with a spatula. Sprinkle M&M's on top and then place in the fridge for 30 minutes. Once chocolate has hardened break pieces off the foil and store for up to two weeks in an container.
I didn't count my crackers as you can see and didn't have enough saltines but these other ones filled in fine.

There's the toffee goodness getting started.
Pour over the crackers.  Be careful putting into the oven because I spilled a little on my hand and it didn't feel great.
Sprinkle with chocolate chips.  I used half milk, half semi-sweet.

Melts fairly quick.  Spread with a spatula.  Throw some mini m&ms on top.
Break into pieces.  YUMMY

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Date Cookies

When I was growing up, my Mom would take me to the local bakery and we'd get Date Cookies. They were her favorite and became one of mine. The bakery closed and the ones my Grandma used to make for her when she was little, well Grandma couldn't remember the recipe. I searched and searched for a recipe that she thought was similar and she said this one works. I hope you enjoy them.

1/2 C Butter
2 Eggs
1 C Sugar
2 T Milk
1 t Vanilla
2 1/2 C Flour
1/4 t Baking Soda
1/2 t Salt

Mix the wet, add the dry until combined. Put some flour on your counter and roll the dough to about 1/4 inch thick. I use a circle cutter because I like to fold them over and make little pockets like the ones from the bakery but I've made them without folding and they were just as good so it's your choice.

3/4 C Dates chopped
3/4 C Raisins chopped
1/2 C Sugar
1/2 C Water
2 T Lemon Juice

Heat all together over low heat until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. The smaller you chop the dates and raisins the quicker it will thicken but I've gotten lazy over the years and barely chop and it's all good.

Put a dollop of dates in the middle of the dough and fold over. Press the edges together so the dates don't seep out. Bake at 400 for about 10 minutes. Bottom should be light brown. Makes about 3 dozen.
Dates in the pot
Cut out circles
Fill and fold over

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Peanut Butter Kisses

These are my son's favorite. Hope you like them too.

What you'll need:

Unwrap a bag of Hershey Kisses so they are ready to go.

1/2 C Butter softened
1 Egg
1/2 C Peanut Butter
1/2 C Sugar
1/2 C Brown Sugar

Cream together. And then add...

1 1/2 C Flour
1/4 t Salt
3/4 t Baking Soda
1/2 t Baking Powder

Roll into small balls about the size of a medium gum ball. That is bigger than the ones that cost a penny and smaller than the quarter size. Basically you are going to have a bite size cookie when it cooks.

Roll in sugar. Put on pan and bake at 375 for about 7 minutes until bottom is lightly browned.

Immediately put on waxed paper and immediately push a Hershey Kiss in the center. You are not going to be able to move these for at least two hours because the kiss melts and will collapse if you move them. They need to completely cool before you package these.

These freeze well

Monday, December 15, 2014

Magic Cookie Bars

These are MY favorite.

My FAVORITE bar that I make for the holidays. Step by step will not be until the end of the month but you can handle these without.

1/2 C Butter cut into chunks
1 1/2 C Graham Cracker crumbs
14 oz can Condensed Milk
1 C chopped Walnuts
1/2 -3/4 C Coconut
6 oz Chocolate Chips

Heat oven to 350. In 13x9 cake pan, melt your butter in the oven a few minutes. Keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn. Sprinkle crumbs over the butter, mix it up and press into the pan with your hand or a fork to form the crust. Pour the condensed milk over the crust making sure it covers the entire crust. Top with coconut, chocolate chips and nuts. Press down a bit. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the edges are golden. Cool, cut and serve.Roll graham crackers into crumbs
Sprinkle graham crackers into butter
Drizzle condensed milk
Sprinkle Chocolate chips
Chopped nuts

Friday, December 12, 2014


These are SO easy and everyone loves them.

What you'll need:

1 Bag of Butterscotch Chips
4 C Chow Mein Noodles
1 C Peanuts ~ optional

Melt chips in the microwave for 1 minute. Stir until all the chips are mixed. If you need to microwave longer, go 15 seconds more and stir some more. You want to make sure you don't microwave too long or the creamy texture turns dry. Add your chow mein noodles and peanuts. Drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper. Wait until they harden and you're good to go. These can be made ahead of time.

I grabbed the photo off of the internet since I haven't made mine yet.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Rolo Cookie

These are a favorite in the cookie basket.

You also don't need to put any drizzle but I think it makes the cookie so much prettier.

2 Eggs
1 C Butter softened
2 t Vanilla
2 1/2 C Flour
1 C Brown Sugar
3/4 C Cocoa
1 C Sugar
1 t Baking Soda
1 bag of Rolos unwrapped

Mix your wet ingredients, add the dry and mix. Take a heaping tablespoon of dough and wrap around the Rolo making a ball. Make sure that the Rolo is completely wrapped, you don't want the caramel to seep out while baking.

Bake at 350 for about 8 minutes. Take out of the oven and whack on the counter to flatten a bit (you don't have to do that but I like a more uniform looking cookie, plus I like the element of surprise when someone bites into the cookie). Put on waxed paper to cool. Drizzle with white chocolate.

Put your Rolo in the middle of some dough and roll into balls
This is about how big they should be, about the size of a large gumball.Give them a whack on the counter before you take them off the pan

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Whipped Shortbreads

I received this recipe from my friend Karol and they are so easy and yummy that I make them every year for Christmas. Hope you like them.

1 C Soft Butter
1 1/2 C Flour
1/2 C Powdered Sugar

Whip all of this with your electric mixer for 10 minutes. I don't use the whisk attachment, just the regular paddle.

Place by small spoonfuls on a cookie sheet~I get about 6 dozen. You can put sprinkles on them if you want. Bake until lightly browned in a 300 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes. Cool.

Here's where I added my own touch. I melt white chocolate (I accidentally bought Mint flavored milk chocolate one year and those were a huge hit too) with a bit of red of green food coloring and I dip half of the cookie into the chocolate and then add some Christmas type sprinkles. Put on wax paper to harden.

I have never frozen them but Karol says they freeze well.
Out of oven
Dip in Chocolate

Monday, December 8, 2014

Ginger Cookies

These are a little bigger than my cookies and they are missing the red hot but you get the idea. I will download step by step for next year but until get my Aunt Judy's Yummy Ginger Cookie recipe which is easy enough to follow without the photos.

Ginger Cookies

3/4 C Soft Butter
1 C Sugar
4 T Molasses
1 egg
2 1/2 C Flour
2 t Baking Soda
1 t each cinnamon, ginger and cloves

Cream Butter and sugar. Mix in Molasses and Egg. Mix in Flour, soda, cinnamon, ginger and cloves.

Refrigerate couple hours or over night. Roll into small balls (about 1/2 T of dough). Roll in sugar. Put on greased cookie sheet, bake 7-8 minutes at 375. Take out of oven and immediately press red hot into middle.. Cool and store in air tight container, these are fine in container for a week. And, they freeze well.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Sugar Cookies

The tried and true. The cookie that Christmas wouldn't be the same without. The photo is from when I made them from Valentine's day but you get the idea:)

I will try to show you how to avoid the mistakes that make sugar cookies tough or dry. The two big tricks are to handle the dough as little as possible and watch the flour.

I always double the recipe because if you are going to take the time to make cut out cookies, you might as well make a bunch. These freeze very well. This is the "single" batch recipe.

2 1/2 C Flour
1 C Sugar
1 t Baking Powder
2 Eggs
2 t Vanilla
1/2 t Salt
12 T Butter ~ soft

Combine butter, eggs, vanilla and sugar at medium speed. Add dry ingredients and mix until combined and dough forms. Cover and chill at least 4 hours or up to 4 days. Roll dough and bake at 375 for about 8 minutes.
I did use my trusty KitchenAid Mixer but up until a year ago when I got it, a regular hand mixer and bowl did the trick. Here's your butter, eggs, vanilla and sugar ready to mix.
Make sure your wet ingredients are well mixed. Now it's time to add the dry.
The dough will form and look like this. Put in the fridge to chill. Make sure you chill at LEAST 4 hours, if you don't...the dough absorbs more flour when you are rolling it out and your cookies will NOT be good.
Sprinkle your counter with flour and divide the dough in half.
Push your dough down so you don't have to do so much work with the rolling pin.
Sprinkle the top with flour. You don't want your rolling pin to stick.
Start rolling out your dough, applying even and steady pressure with the rolling pin. Try to keep the dough a consistent thickness as you roll.
Cut your cookies as close together as you can. The less you have to re-roll the dough, the better the cookies.
This is a good thickness for your cookies. If they are thinner, watch them closely when baking because they will cook fast and be more crispy. If they are thicker, they are going to have a more doughy consistency even when fully cooked.
They don't spread much so this is how close you can put them. Bake for about 8 minutes at 375
In my opinion, a good sugar cookie should NOT be browned on the top at all. If you've rolled the dough so the thickness is consistent, they shouldn't be brown even on the edges. The bottom should look like this...lightly browned.
After you've rolled out the first batch, these are your leftovers, set aside. Roll the fresh batch same as the first.
This is your second time around. Mold dough ever so slightly into new ball. Use less flour on your counter because the dough is less sticky the second time around and re-roll the dough.
Save the sprinkle cookies until the end because your pan is going to have some sprinkles left over on the pan. Don't OVER sprinkle because the cookies don't cook evenly. This amount is perfect.