Friday, December 28, 2007

Cleaning Out the Pantry

I was cleaning out the pantry in anticipation of the new year and better eating with the holiday behind me. I kind of threw these little tarts together.


I had some frozen tart shells in the freezer and I took them out and baked them for just a few minutes at 375 -- about 5 minutes -- not quite done. In a saucepan I took 1 apple that I peeled and cut into small pieces. I added about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of Craisins, 2 tablespoons butter, about 1/2 cup of apple juice, and about 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. I added about 1/4 cup of chopped pecans and heck I even through in a little bit of coconut. I simmered that on the stove top until the apples were just tender. I put the mixture into the partially cooked tart shells and then baked them another 5 minutes or so until golden brown. That helped with a little bit of getting the pantry back in order.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Breakfast Casserole

I always make a breakfast casserole on Christmas Eve so that it can be popped in the oven on Christmas morning while opening presents. I usually make one that you use bread in, but this year tried a new one that uses frozen hashbrowns, I think we like it better than the bread one.


8 frozen hashbrown patties (or you could use a package of shredded ones I think)
1 pound bulk sausage
2-1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
10 eggs
1-1/2 cups milk
Salt and Pepper to taste

Cook the sausage until it crumbles. Drain and set aside. Spray a 9 x 13 pan with Pam and lay the 8 frozen hashbrown patties down. Sprinkle with 2 cups cheddar cheese. Add the crumbled sausage. In a bowl whisk eggs with milk, add salt and pepper. Pour over sausage. Cover with foil and place in the fridge overnight. The next morning bake the casserole covered for 1 hour at 350 degrees. Remove the foil and sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup cheese on top. Bake an additional 15 minutes. Cut into squares.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Thank You Emiline!

So, you might notice a different title on my blog today. Thanks to the talents of Emiline at Sugar Plum who designed the title. I've been wanting to change the title and mentioned it to Em and she was so kind to design a few (look for a change once in a while). Thank Em!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Lemon Cake

My mom used to make a lemon pound cake with pecans in it during the holidays. I loved the texture of that cake. A friend of mine brought some lemons to work the other day that her uncle had grown in his back yard. I've never seen such juicy lemons. I had a lemon cake recipe in my files so I used up the lemon juice with that. It's not the same texture as the pound cake but 3/4 cup butter as opposed to a whole pound is probably better in some way.

3/4 cup softened butter
1-1/4 cups sugar
3 eggs
2-3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup undiluted evaporated milk
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup chopped pecans
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind

1/4 cup chopped nuts
1 tablespoon lemon rind
1 cup powdered sugar
4 teaspoons lemon juice

Cream butter, gradually beat in sugar. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Stir together flour, baking powder and baking soda. Combine evaporated milk and lemon juice. Alternately add dry ingredients and evaporated milk mixture to butter mixture, beat until smooth. Stir in nuts and rind. Spoon into lightly buttered 10-inch bundt pan. Bake in slow oven, 325 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 20 minutes in pan. Remove from pan and cool completely. Drizzle with icing and sprinkle with nuts and lemon rind.
Icing: Stir powdered sugar and lemon juice. Drizzle over cake, sprinkle nuts and rind. I did not ice the cake, I just sprinkled powdered sugar. The icing really makes it though.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Chicken Salad Puffs

One of the girls in the office has been asking for these. I made some pate choux and filled with chicken salad. The first batch of these did not turn out and I only had 2 chicken breasts for the salad, so it made a small batch. They were good though!

1 cup water
1 stick butter cut into pieces
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon flour
4 eggs

Combine the water, butter and salt in a saucepan and heat until the butter melts and the water boils. Remove the pan from the heat and add the flour all at once. With a wooden spoon, beat until a thick mixture forms. The mixture will pull away from the pan. Cool slightly. Stir over low heat until the mixture pulls away from the pan. Cool slightly. Add eggs one at a time until blended well into flour mixture -- this can be a workout for your arms! I've never used a mixer at this point, but I guess you could. After all eggs are incorporated. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto cookie sheet. Bake at 450 for 15 minutes and reduce heat to 375 for 15 minutes. Fill with mixture of your choice -- either savory or sweet. I just filled these with my basic chicken salad recipe. I've made them filled with pudding and drizzled with chocolate, even a no bake cheesecake filling is good.

Monday, December 17, 2007


I ran out of time this weekend. I had planned to make a more elaborate cookie that I found from a cookie exchange. But with time short, I just decided to make a classic cookie that is easy to do. They were well received at work today, so I guess it was a good choice.


1 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl cream together the shortening and 1 1/2 cups sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla. Mix the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt together. Add to creamed mixture until mixed well. In a small bowl stir together the 2 tablespoons of sugar and the cinnamon. Roll dough into walnut sized balls, then roll the balls in the cinnamon-sugar. Place them onto an ungreased cookie sheet about two inches apart. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until edges are lightly brown. Remove from sheets to cool on wire racks.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Best Ever Almond Toffee

Last month Anna over at Cookie Madness posted about making this toffee. I've always been intimidated by making candy but was inspired by Anna who I think is just amazing. Even with our humidity it turned out exactly as she describes in her post. This is great stuff. Here is a link to the recipe Best Ever Almond Toffee .

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Winning Cookies

My little community had its Hometown Christmas this past weekend. I entered these cookies in the dropped cookie category and won first place! It is the first time I've ever entered a baking contest and I was pleasantly surprised. I got a framed certificate for my winning. I'll hang it in my kitchen. One of my friends entered in the rolled cookie category and won for that and also best of show since she decorated them. Way to go for her! I had to enter 4 cookies on a plain white plate for the judging and then the rest of the cookies went on the cake wheel for a prize.


1 cup shortening
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs slightly beaten
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup oats (old-fashioned, not quick cooking)
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup toasted pecans
1/2 cup white chocolate chips (optional)
1/2 cup Craisins (optional)

Mix shortening, sugars, vanilla, and eggs until smooth. Mix flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt together. Add to wet mixture. Stir in pecans, white chocolate chips, and Craisins.

Place on ungreased cookie sheets and bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Makes 3-4 dozen.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Fantasy Fudge

When I was a girl my Daddy used to make this fudge every Christmas. He would cut it into pieces and layer it with waxed paper and put it in a special dish. When asked the recipe he always said it was a closely guarded secret. (Of course the recipe was on the back of the marshmallow cream jar). Sadly he passed away when I was 16. In going through his wallet, tucked away inside was the typewritten recipe for this fudge. Several years ago they changed the recipe a bit, and even though the recipe is right there on the jar, I always pull out Daddy's recipe to use and keep the tradition of making this each year.


3 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter or margarine
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 12 oz. package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 7 oz. jar marshmallow cream
1 cup chopped pecans

Combine butter, sugar, and milk in a heavy 2-1/2 quart pan. Bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Continue boiling for 5 minutes over medium heat. Remove from heat. Add chocolate, marshmallow cream, and vanilla. Stir quickly to melt chocolate. Pour into a buttered 9 x 13 pan. Cut into 1 inch squares.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Banana Bread

When I was a young bride, my then husband was in the Air Force. I met another young bride and we shared recipes and learned to cook new things together. I still have the recipe card with her recipe for this banana bread. We had a breakfast meeting at work and I took this in. This makes two large loaves and I took the other to a friend to take home to her husband who is a 'keeper' too.

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
2 cups mashed bananas (I used 4)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
3-1/2 cups flour
1 cup sour cream
1 cup chopped nuts (I used toasted pecans)
Cream butter and sugar, add vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add bananas. Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add dry ingredients alternating with sour cream. Fold in nuts. Pour into two large loaf pans that have been sprayed with Pam. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes. Check middle with a knife to make sure it is done.

Sausage Cheese Balls

I also took something savory to the meeting.
I'm sure everyone has made these at one time or another.
Easy for sure.

3 cups Bisquick baking mix
1 pound Jimmy Dean bulk sausage (or any kind you like)
2 cups shredded cheese of your choice

Mix all ingredients by hand. It will take some time to get this all incorporated. Roll into walnut-sized balls. Spray a baking pan with Pam. Place balls onto baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes until light brown. These can be frozen ahead of time and baked later, but will take a little extra time.