Friday, December 21, 2007

Chocolate Covered Peanuts

These little morsels are always a big hit and they are the easiest things to make. There is no measuring, it is just dump and stir. I don't know where the recipe came from, but I'm almost sure it was something my mom passed along to me over the phone.
Easy Chocolate Covered Peanuts
1 bag milk chocolate morsels
1 bag peanut butter morsels
1 bag butterscotch morsels
1 large jar of roasted peanuts
Melt all morsels in a large pot over low heat. Once everything has melted and come together pour peanuts into chocolate and stir. Spoon out to desired size onto wax or parchment paper. Once cool enjoy.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sugar Cookies and a Great Dinner

The second cookie this season is the basic sugar cookie. I modified a sour cream filled cookie recipe to use for my sugar cookies and they turned out great. These cookies can be rolled out as thick or thin as you like and they stay soft days. This is an old family recipe so there are no flour measurements...this is all by feel.

Sugar Cookies
2 c sugar
1 c sour cream
1/2 c softened butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Cream sugar and butter. Add egg, vanilla, and sour cream to mixture. Combine dry ingredients with 1 cup flour. Slowly add dry mixture to wet. Add flour 1/2 cup at a time until mixture pulls away from the sides of the bowl. It should be very soft but not too sticky. I often stop slightly before it is ready just to make sure I don't overbeat the dough. Then I flour the counter, turn out the dough, and slightly knead in a little more flour until the dough isn't too sticky. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours. Then roll out as you would normally. Bake at 350 until edges just begin to turn color.

I also wanted to mention the yummy dinner we had last night. I usually hate deep/shallow frying anything because of the mess it makes, but last night I tackled fried chicken. I made a couple alterations to make it extremely easy. First of all, I only used drumsticks for a couple of reasons...the pieces are all the same size so the cooking time is the same for everything, they cook very quickly, and they are kid friendly. The second thing I did was to fry them in batches and finish them off in the oven. This way I could quickly fry them and clean up the mess before we even sat down to eat. This was a very basic flour, salt, and pepper coating but it was very tasty and very crisp. We enjoyed it with some mashed potatoes and some garden green beans from the freezer. All were winners last night. Just take a look at my little potato masher for evidence!

Easy Fried Chicken
2 lbs chicken drumsticks
2 c buttermilk
1 1/2 cups flour
1 T salt
1 T pepper
peanut oil

Bring 2-3 inches of oil up to 360 degrees in a high-sided pot. Meanwhile soak chicken legs in buttermilk for 5-10 minutes (if you have time you could soak them overnight for even more flavor). When oil comes to temp., coat drumsticks in flour, salt, and pepper mixture. Fry 2-3 pieces at a time for 3 minutes on each side and then transfer to a lined baking sheet and place in the oven. Fry remaining batches and finish off in the oven. This should take about 20 minutes.

Friday, December 14, 2007

A Little Christmas Baking...Finally

It seems like the past few months have utterly flown by. It seems as though we were just getting ready for Halloween and in a blink we've been transported to Christmas.

I feel like I am behind. I do have my shopping done, and the tree and house have been decorated for weeks, but I haven't done much baking. I have a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit without sugar cookies to decorate, my grandma's date nut cookies, or things covered in chocolate. So, last night I set to work and whipped up a few batches of cookies that I'll be sharing with you in the next few days.

The first batch of cookies was a super simple macaroon. I made these for a church brunch during the summer and they were a huge hit. People were asking for more long after they had disappeared from the buffet table. I never knew they were such a popular little cookie.

Having these around make it feel a little more like the holidays.

Coconut Macaroons
14 ounces shredded coconut
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1 t vanilla
2 egg whites, room temperature
large pinch of salt

Whip egg whites and salt on high speed until medium firm peaks are made. Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Carefully fold whites into mixture making sure not to deflate egg whites too much. Drop spoonfuls on parchment lined baking sheets. Bake at 325 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Breakfast Pies

These little breakfast pies were a breeze to make. It is a simple pie crust with cherry pie filling. I was looking for a new breakfast treat that didn't take too much time and was a bit fun. These fit the bill. They were just as tasty for breakfast as they were warmed up with a scoop of ice cream for a late night dessert.

Cherry Pie for Breakfast

1 recipe standard pie crust
1 can cherry pie filling
1/4 milk
1/4 cup sugar

Roll out pie crust into large circle. Cut into for pieces (like 4 large slices.) Place 2 tablespoons filling in center and fold pie crust to cover. Crimp edges with a fork and then brush with milk. Sprinkle tops with sugar. Bake at 350 until golden...15 to 20 minutes.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Choo Choo, Look Who's Two!

My son, Gabe, turned two today and this was the train cake we made together. There were just a few of us celebrating and this cake was terrific because there were no leftovers. You could definitely customize it and add more cars depending on the size of your party.
This was also a big hit with Gabe because he is into trains at the moment and he got to help decorate it with all sorts of goodies. We originally got the idea from the Family Fun website. Check it out for lots of other cake ideas.

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