Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Cranberry Candy Canes

If doing just a teeeee-ny tiny bit more baking fits into your New Year's Eve plans, try this yummy recipe for Cranberry Candy Canes that you'll find at Lindsay's blog, Passionate Homemaking. Lindsay says she makes these on Christmas morning at her husband's request. I made mine yesterday, and believe they make a fine post-Christmas tradition, too.

I did add about 1/2 c. more flour to the recipe as my dough was really wet. And for the glaze, I didn't have half-and-half so just substituted water (and used about 2 T). I also didn't refrigerate the dough before assembling -- because I'm just not that patient! These do make a lot, so you'll probably have enough left over to freeze, unless you'll be with a pretty hungry gang sometime soon.

Thanks for the great recipe, Lindsay!


Monday, December 29, 2008

Cheesy Popcorn

There's a chance that by this time in the Christmas season you might be a tad bit tired of sugar and cookies and fudge. Oh my! (I can't believe I'm saying this.) But if the idea of making one more batch of double fudge cookies just does not appeal, try this popcorn as your next snack.

My favorite way to make popcorn is with my hot-air popper. I seem to have better luck with it than with the microwave. All the kernels pop, and you never get a burned piece.

Now onto the directions:

Make one batch popcorn.

Melt 1/4 c. butter. Stir into the butter 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, 1 t. chili powder, and 1/2 t. salt. Pour over the popcorn and stir to distribute.

So, what's your favorite way to make and serve popcorn?


Friday, December 26, 2008


Now that Christmas is over, I can post a few pictures of some gifts I enjoyed making.
On the non-food related front, I cross-stitched my little heart out. Here are some of the ornaments I made.

My experiments at making grapevine wreaths were a bit of a failure (snap, crackle, pop are not the noises I was hoping to hear) so I ended up buying these wreaths. I'll try again with the grapevines, earlier next year so they aren't so dry.

Though I am not much of a seamstress, I was inspired to try making a t-shirt quilt after I saw the one adorning the bed of one of my son's friends. His had a sports theme, but I made this one out of my son's marching band t-shirts, so its motif is music. The white fabric around the outer edges is sprinkled with musical notes, and the backing, black fabric has musical instruments scattered across it.

This is a close-up of the center square, a nine-patch pattern made up of the front pocket designs from five of the shirts. Can you see the actual quilting, done in musical notes and treble clefs? God bless the quilting shop that had the machine that could do this! If I'd had to quilt it myself, it would be one of those projects perpetually unfinished.

Back to food: my husband and I teamed up to produce a "favorite smoothies" recipe book. I provided the recipes and text; he provided the photos and layout expertise. Copying and binding, by Kinko's.

And finally, the recipe portion of the post. You thought I forgot this was a recipe blog, didn't you?
This Make-A-Shake jar is filled with layers of crushed Oreo cookies and M & Ms. Alternate the layers, and include a gift tag instructing the recipient to pour half the jar into the blender, add a couple scoops of vanilla ice cream and 1/4 c. of milk. Blend and voila! Instant sugar rush.
So now the question is . . . did you have time to make any gifts this year? I'd love to hear about them.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Breakfast Smoothie

I've been on a smoothie kick this last year, trying out all kinds of concoctions made with avocados and sweetened condensed milk (ugh), cucumber and mint (yum), and this one, a super filling combination containing peanut butter, orange juice, strawberries, and (uncooked) oatmeal. It comes from the best smoothie book ever, Delicious Drinks to Sip, Slurp, Gulp, and Guzzle by Rose Dunnington. As the author says, "The other smoothies in this book are great as part of your breakfast, but this one is a meal all by itself. Complex carbohydrates, like those in rolled oats, are good for you, especially early in the day. It takes your body a while to break carbs down into usable fuel, so (this smoothie) can keep you full until lunchtime."
It really does.
And at this busy time of year, when you're wrapping, mailing, writing cards, and attending Christmas recitals, it's nice to know that, even when you don't have a spare minute to cook, you still won't starve.
1 banana
2 T. peanut butter
2 T. (uncooked) oatmeal
1/2 c. orange juice
8 frozen strawberries (Rose calls for 4, but I like 8)
Throw it all in the blender and blend away.
Note: Pop over to visit Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer for some great Works-for-Me Wednesday tips.
Note #2: Check out this carnival at Life as Mom for some more breakfast ideas.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sweet Potato Chips

I got this recipe from my Weight Watchers cookbook. It was listed as a vegetable side dish, but I think it works better as a snack, seeing as you have to pay it a fair amount of attention, turning the chips individually halfway through the cooking time, and watching to see when each is done. These chips were a nice combination of sweet and salty (reminding me of chocolate covered pretzels, oddly enough). I will definitely be making them again.


2 t. vegetable oil

6 ounces thinly sliced sweet potato (1/8-inch thick slices) -- about 1 medium sweet potato

1 t. brown sugar

1/2 t. salt

dash ground cinnamon

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cover bottom of cookie sheet with foil. After slicing sweet potato, drizzle the oil over and toss to coat. Place potato slices in one layer on cookie sheet. Mix brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon in small bowl, and sprinkle over sweet potato slices. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn each slice over with tongs. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake about 15 more minutes, or until crisp.

The book instructs you to "check for doneness frequently to prevent burning." When I peeked in the oven the first time to check, I thought I had burned some. But one taste of these salty-sweet morsels convinced me that all was well and they were progressing exactly as they should. The brown just means it's time to take them out of the oven.

Two, three, ten tastes later, I had to stop myself so I would have enough to take a picture of. The recipe is supposed to serve two (HA!). Next time I will double the recipe. And maybe still eat them all. Sorry, Weight Watchers. A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Instant Hot Spiced Cider

After experimenting all week with various versions of Hot Buttered Apple Cider, I've decided this simplest of recipes (with no "buttered," just the hot and the cider) is my favorite.

You simply pour some apple cider into a microwavable mug.
Wash an orange and slice off some of the peel. (Try not to get the white part, which can be bitter. If your peel comes off in small pieces, that's fine.)

Poke three or four whole cloves into the orange peel. Put the whole thing into the mug of apple juice, and microwave it for about a minute and a half.

That's it! Instant hot spiced cider. If you have any cinnamon sticks on hand, you can stick those in the mug before serving.

What are your favorite wintertime drink recipes?
Note: Check out some great gift wrapping tips, and other wonderful Works-For-Me-Wednesday ideas here.


Friday, December 5, 2008

Potato Rolls

I hope by now we've all been able to dispose of those Thanksgiving mashed potatoes.

Tuck this recipe away for post-Christmas, when you might once again have a few too many mashed potatoes hanging around. This was my first attempt at making potato rolls and I've gotta say, I loved 'em so much I immediately made a second batch, making 12 larger rolls for hamburgers. For 24 rolls, cook about 10 minutes, and for 12 larger hamburger buns, cook about 12 minutes.


1/4 c. water
1 c. milk
1 egg
1/2 c. mashed potatoes
1/4 c. shortening
1/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 t. salt
4 - 4 1/2 c. flour
1 package yeast (about 2 1/4 t.)

Place all ingredients in bread machine, on "dough" setting. When machine beeps, remove dough to a floured surface. Grease a baking sheet that has sides. Divide dough into 24 pieces and shape each piece into a roll. Place on baking sheet and let rise about an hour, until almost doubled in size.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes. Serve with butter.
Note: These freeze well, too.

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Chocolate-Coconut Potato Candy

If you like Mounds candy bars, you will looooove this candy. Yes, indeedy, it's made with genuine mashed potatoes. (See post below for the reason I am resorting to making candy from potatoes.)

First, pull out a 9 x 9-inch pan and tuck in a sheet of tin foil. Butter the foil while you're at it.

Next, in mixing bowl, stir together:
4 c. powdered sugar (a 16-oz. box)
4 c. flaked coconut
3/4 c. cold mashed potatoes
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1/2 t. salt
Plunk it all into the pan and stick the pan in the freezer for at least an hour. You can leave it in the freezer overnight, too, it won't get rock hard.
Cut the mixture into 1-inch by 2-inch pieces. (Actually, this candy is really rich, so 1-inch by 1-inch pieces might be even better. Do as I say, not as I do, as my grandma used to tell us.)
In small saucepan, melt about 10 ounces of baking chocolate, the semi-sweet variety. Dig out the coconut nuggets and dip them in chocolate. Cool on waxed paper, and store in the refrigerator.

Then, of course, you must eat them.
Note: go check out some more wonderful Works-for-me-Wednesday ideas here.

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Monday, December 1, 2008

Can You Ever Have Too Many Mashed Potatoes?

First, you make a couple of potato "pie crusts"

which you fill with turkey and leftover gravy and freeze for later.

Next, you make a batch of potato rolls. Beautiful! Delicious!

Then you make a chocolate/potato cake.

So why are there still so many stinkin' potatoes?

Okie dokie. We'll put some cupcake papers in the cupcake tins, and fill 'em up to freeze some meal-sized mashed potatoes for some day when we're not tired of them . . . some day in February, say. Or maybe June.


Some potato pancakes for lunch, perhaps.

And maybe another batch of these, hamburger-sized.

Perhaps you'd like some potato/coconut candy to go with those potato rolls, potato pancakes, and potato/chocolate cake.

Yes. The answer is yes. You can have too many mashed potatoes.

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What's in Season in December

. . . other than hot fudge upside down cake, that is.

December is a great month to shop for:
brussels sprouts
mandarin oranges
sweet potatoes
winter squash

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