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Saturday, December 17, 2016

This Day Takes Flight

December 17th has been declared the Wright Brothers Day. Over just one hundred years ago on December 17th 1903 Orville and Wilbur Wright became the first to power a plane. Thanks to this duo it is possible to escape to paradise somewhere as well as to take a plane ride home to visit friends and family for the holiday.

Take the outer wrap off a pack of gum sticks, use a roll of smarties or other similar roll candy for the plane body, and then attach the gum stick wings to the plane's Life Saver wheels using rubber bands. Easy fun candy airplane treat!

Santa Hat Treat

1 bag of regular or caramel Bugles 
Red candy melts 
1 tablespoon shortening
Mini marshmallows (just a handful is enough)
White nonpareil sprinkles

Melt the candy melts and shortening together in 30 second intervals in your microwave until melted. As soon as everything is melted, start dipping the Bugles into the chocolate, letting the excess chocolate drip off. Let them set up until firm on parchment or wax paper. When the Bugles are set, remelt the red chocolate if necessary and dip just the bottom of the Bugles into the white sprinkles. Then flip the Bugle over and dip the top in red chocolate and firmly press a mini marshmallow on top. Let set again on the parchment or wax paper

Stuffed Mini Peppers

For a great appetizer try using those cute little sweet peppers 
Stuffed Mini Peppers 11

Stuffed Mini Peppers 10
Scooping these little guys out isn’t nearly as labor-intensive as I thought it would be. While it’s the step that took the longest – we’re using 24 of them after all – some didn’t even have seeds or the ribs in them to scoop out.
Stuffed Mini Peppers 9
After sauteing the pancetta and onion, it’s a quick, easy hop to fixing up the rest of the filling. Ricotta, fresh-grated Parmesan cheese and little baby peas complete it.
Stuffed Mini Peppers 8
Stuffed and ready to be baked!
Stuffed Mini Peppers 7
We knew the filling would ooze out a little bit, and that was OK. It was very easy to slip a pancake-style spatula underneath them and onto our plates. Maybe a little TOO easy.

Stuffed Mini Peppers 6

Stuffed Mini Peppers 1The salty, savory and 

Stuffed Mini Peppers

from Giada De Laurentiis via Food Network
Prep Time: 15 minutes    Cook time: 30 minutes    Level: Easy    Serves: 4-6
  • Vegetable oil cooking spray
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup frozen petite peas, thawed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 24 (2 to 3-inch long) sweet baby peppers
Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with vegetable oil cooking spray and set aside.
In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring frequently, until brown and crispy, about 5 to 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta and drain on paper towels. Add the onion to the pan and cook until translucent and soft, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
In a medium bowl, combine the onion, pancetta, cheeses, and peas. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Using a paring knife, cut 1/2-inch from the stem-end of the peppers. Remove the seeds and veins. Using a small dessert spoon, fill each pepper with the ricotta mixture. Place the filled peppers on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 to 18 minutes until the peppers begin to soften. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes.
Arrange the peppers on a platter and serve.

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Have a Bit of Eggnog

Whether a non alcoholic or alcoholic version our family has long loved eggnog. There are some that do not like this holiday favorite but others like my husband and children feel that it is not the holidays until they get some. Oh so yummy.

4 cups milk
5 whole cloves
2 1/ 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
12 egg yolks
1 1/ 2 cups sugar
2 1/ 2 cups light rum
4 cups light cream
1/ 2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
· Mix cloves, milk, 1/ 2-teaspoon vanilla extract and cinnamon in a saucepan and heat at low setting for about 4 minutes to bring the mixture to a boil slowly. · Take a large bowl and combine egg yolks and sugar. Whisk together until fluffy. Then, whisk hot milk mixture slowly in the eggs. · Pour the whisked mixture in a saucepan and cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes stirring it continuously. Don’t boil the mixture. · Strain the mixture to remove cloves and let it cool for about an hour. · Now, stir in rum, cream and 2 teaspoon vanilla along with nutmeg. Refrigerate it overnight before setting. · Serve chilled.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Butterscotch Bread Pudding

Butterscotch Bread Pudding

1 (10.75 ounce) loaf day-old bread, torn into small pieces
4 cups milk
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
3 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Butter a 9x13 inch baking dish.
In a large bowl, combine bread, milk, sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla and butterscotch chips; mixture should be the consistency of oatmeal. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake in preheated oven 1 hour, until nearly set. (It should have a "thigh wiggle" or wiggle as much as a well endowed thigh.) Serve warm or cold.

Capturing Christmas Fun

Dont forget to have lots of fun and capture it in pictures to share memories in years yet to come

Fruit Filled Christmas Tree

Source: Inspired from a supermarket holiday flier.

You will need:
1 styrofoam cone (small or medium size) from your local craft store. 
Cookie cutters with various shapes (I used a gingerbread-man shaped and a star shaped cutter 
Assorted fruits - I used green and black grapes, strawberries, kiwis, dried cranberries and a honeydew melon.
Cilantro garnish.

My styrofoam cone was green in color, if you only have a white one then I suppose you could drape some green paper on a white cone or attach fruits very densely so it resembles more like a tree trunk.Using the cookie cutters create various shapes out of the melon slices.Attach toothpicks to the styrofoam cone. Attach one piece each of a fruit to a toothpick. (Think free-form; as the tree starts building you will know more about which fruit combinations are looking better and how densely packed you want your tree to be).Continue building the tree as dense as you want!Use cilantro leaves as grass garnish.Enjoy your new edible fruit tree!!

source here

Peanut Blossoms

48 HERSHEY'S KISSES Brand Milk Chocolates
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup REESE'S Creamy Peanut Butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Granulated sugar

Heat oven to 375°F. Remove wrappers from chocolates Beat shortening and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately press a chocolate into center of each cookie; cookie will crack around edges. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. About 4 dozen cookies.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Snowman Beef Stew

Snowman Beef Stew

1 pound ground beef
1 package (16 ounces) frozen vegetables for stew, divided (make sure you get the kind that has peas in it)
1 can (10-1/4 ounces) beef gravy
2 cups mashed potatoes (I used the prepared kind that is sold in the refrigerated section. . They are not at all bad.)
16 whole black peppercorns
1/4 cup ketchup (I put mine in a small squeeze bottle to make it easier to pipe the scarves)
In a skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain.
Remove 24 peas and one carrot chunk from the stew vegetables; set aside. Add the remaining vegetables to beef. Cook until vegetables are thawed. Add gravy; mix well.
Pour into an ungreased 9-in. pie plate. Top with eight mashed potato snowmen, using 1 tablespoon of potatoes for each head and 3 tablespoons for each body. (I used two sizes of ice cream scoops to do this)
Bake, uncovered, at 350℉ for 20 minutes. (see note below)
Meanwhile, with a sharp knife, cut the reserved carrot into eight strips. Insert one strip into each snowman for a nose. Place three reserved peas on each for buttons. Add peppercorns for eyes. Drizzle ketchup between head and body to form a scarf.
Note: add the peas, eyes and noses before baking and piped the scarves on when took the dish out of the oven.
Serves 6

Christmas Coleslaw

Cabbage is a cold weather vegetable and in December  it is available fresh in some areas. This is a great dish to serve next to your Christmas ham or turkey. It accompanies most dinners and I love that it also offers so much inside including cranberries. Enjoy!!!

  • 1⁄2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3⁄4 cup Organic Cane sugar (I use Florida Crystals Brand)
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 (12- or 16-ounce) package organic broccoli slaw mix
  • 2 Organic Gala apples, chopped
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

  • Combine first 4 ingredients in a small saucepan.
    Bring to a boil; boil 1 minute or until sugar dissolves.
    Remove from heat, and cool; whisk in oil.
    Combine slaw mix, apples, and cranberries in a large bowl.
    Pour vinaigrette over broccoli slaw, and toss well.
    Cover and chill.
    Serve with a slotted spoon.

    recipe source here

    shared here

    Painted Sugar Cookies

    Christmas is a time for me that is filled in amazing colors. One of the things that we love to do is to make sugar cookies. While we often use sprinkles and icing these cookies have a painted appearance . Just follow this recipe and you will be able to create a treat as well.

    MRS. FIELDS GINGERBREAD COOKIES (Makes about 3 dozen)
    1 cup salted butter, softened (remove from refrigerator 1 hour before starting)
    3 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    2 teaspoons ground ginger
    1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
    3/4 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
    1 large egg
    1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
    ICING: as described above,
    About 3/4 cups confectioner’s sugar
    5 tablespoons milk

    Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. In a large bowl mix butter and sugar together with a pastry blender or by hand. Add egg and molasses and beat together with electric mixer on medium speed. Scrape bowl and add flour mixture. Blend by hand or mixer with dough hooks until just combined, do not overmix. Separate into two balls of equal size, placing each on plastic wrap. Flatten each and wrap tightly, then refrigerate 1 hour, or until very firm.
    Using one dough patty at a time, roll out with a floured rolling pin on a floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness and cut shapes with cookie cutters, as many as you can each time. Remove excess dough, reform patty, and return to refrigerator. With a metal spatula carefully transfer shapes to ungreased baking sheet, about 1/2 inch apart. Bake until just starting to brown, about 14 minutes. Repeat same process with second original dough patty, continue until dough is too small to cut shapes from.
    Allow cookies to cool completely before decorating with icing. Allow icing to harden completely before storing cookies, about 2-3 hours.

    White Chocolate Peanut Butter Clusters

    2 lbs white chocolate for melting
    1 cup creamy peanut butter
    4 cups of Rice Krispies
    3 cups of mini marshmallows
    2 cups of roasted peanuts

    In a sauce pan over medium heat or in the microwave, melt white chocolate and peanut butter together.  Add remaining ingredients and stir gently until cereal, nuts and marshmallows are coated in the chocolate/peanut butter mixture.
    Spread wax paper out on counters and drop spoonfuls of the treat onto the wax paper.  Allow 30 minutes for clusters to set before serving or storing in an air-tight container

    Slow Cooker Breakfast

    1 pkg. frozen shredded hash brown potatoes (26 - 32 oz)
    1 pkg. sausage, cooked and crumbled (about a pound)
    8 oz. ham, chopped
    1 cup (4 oz) shredded colby jack cheese
    1/2 cup (2 oz) shredded pepperjack cheese
    1/2 cup julienne cut sun dried tomatoes, drained
    6 green onion, sliced
    12 eggs
    1/2 cup milk
    1 tsp. salt
    1/4 tsp. black pepper

    Spray crock pot with cooking spray.  Layer 1/2 of the potatoes on the bottom of the slow cooker.  Top with half the sausage, cheeses, sundried tomatoes and green onion.  Repeat layering.  

    Beat eggs, milk an dpepper in a large bowl with a whisk until well blended.  Pour over potato mixtures. Cook on low setting for about 6 - 8 hours or 3 - 4 on high or until eggs are set. 

    How To Make Single Serve Taco Kits

    Our family is very diversified and often on the go. We are not always going in the same direction. There are 4 of us that work outside of the house, 3 of us that go to school and the rest try to hold the fort down. This is great that we all have a life but sometimes that life gets a bit busy. Meals on the run are often part of that. Preparing lunches for work or buying something at the grocery store all ready processed is needed. So I love this idea that I recently found for Taco Kits for Single Serve Meals.

    Each kit will make 1 to 2 tacos depending how much is put into the bag. When fixing for lunch it 
    simply needs to be popped into the microwave for a few minutes. 

    You Will Need
    Snack sized zip top baggies
    Quart sized zip top freezer bags
    Prepared taco meat 
    flour tortillas
    shredded cheddar cheese

    Into a quart sized bag place 1 to 2 tortillas
    Fill the smaller baggies with 1 to 2 portioned servings of prepared taco meat
    Fill another small bag with a handful of shredded cheese

    Put one of the baggies of taco meat and one baggies of cheese into a quart sized baggie 
    with tortilla(s) Place taco kit into freezer to use when needed.

    To prepare:
    remove the small bags of cheddar and taco meat from the quart size baggie
    Place the tortilla on a microwavable plate and sprinkle the frozen meat and cheese on top
    Place plate in microwave and cook for few minutes on high, til meat is warmed
    Carefully remove from and fold in half to serve. 

    Angel Wing Cookies

     Inspired by Taste of Home Cookbook 2006

    1 cup cold butter, cubed
    1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    1/2 cup sour cream
    10 tablespoons sugar-divided ( I just put all in one bowl since it is for rolling the chilled dough in)
    1 tablespoon ground cinnamon ( I sprinkled from my cinnamon canister)
    Colored sugar optional

    In a bowl, cut butter into flour until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. (Just like when you make pie crust) Stir in the sour cream. Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface; knead 6-8 times or until the mixture holds together. Divide and shape into four balls and flatten slightly.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnite.
    When you are ready to bake.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or use ungreased cookie sheets if you do not have parchment paper.
    Unwrap one ball of dough. Roll the dough into the sugar on all sides and place onto a sheet of wax paper or plastic wrap. Cover with a second sheet of wax paper or plastic wrap . Roll into a 12-inch x  5-inch rectangle. Remove top sheet. Sprinkle dough with the cinnamon. Lightly mark a line down center of dough, making two 6-inch x 5-inch rectangles. Don’t cut thru, this is just to make a line to roll dough to. Starting on short end, roll the dough towards your line jelly roll style. Then repeat on the other side until you have two rolls meeting in the middle. You have to peel the paper away from the dough as you roll. A butter knife works well if dough starts getting sticky.
    Wrap the rolled dough in plastic wrap and place in the freezer to chill for at least 30-minutes. This will make the dough easier to slice and bake. Now repeat the rolling process with the rest of the dough balls. While the dough is chilling you can now preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
    Once the dough has chilled. Remove from freezer. Cut into 1/2-inch slices and dip the cookies in sugar on both sides and place on prepared cookie sheets. This is where you can used colored sugars depending on the holiday.
    Bake at 375 degrees for 12 minutes or until golden brown, turn cookies and bake for 5 to 8 minutes longer and  remove to wire racks to cool. Mine took about 10 minutes on the first side and 5 on the second side. The last bath I just baked for 15 minutes and did not turn. They turned out perfect as well and then less chance for me to get burned!
    Chocolate-Mint Bars

    Bottom layer:
    1 cup all-purpose flour (about 4 1/2 ounces)
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 cup granulated sugar
    1/2 cup egg substitute
    1/4 cup butter, melted
    2 tablespoons water
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    2 large eggs, beaten
    1 (16-ounce) can chocolate syrup
    Cooking spray

    Mint layer:
    2 cups powdered sugar
    1/4 cup butter, melted
    2 tablespoons fat-free milk
    1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
    2 drops green food coloring

    3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
    3 tablespoons butter

    Preheat oven to 350°.
    To prepare bottom layer, lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and salt; stir with a whisk. Combine granulated sugar, egg substitute, 1/4 cup melted butter, 2 tablespoons water, vanilla, eggs, and chocolate syrup in a medium bowl; stir until smooth. Add flour mixture to chocolate mixture, stirring until blended. Pour batter into a 13 x 9–inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 23 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out almost clean. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.
    To prepare mint layer, combine powdered sugar, 1/4 cup melted butter, and next 3 ingredients (through food coloring) in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer until smooth. Spread mint mixture over cooled cake.
    To prepare the glaze, combine the chocolate chips and 3 tablespoons butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH 1 minute or until melted, stirring after 30 seconds. Let stand 2 minutes. Spread chocolate mixture evenly over top. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Cut into 20 pieces.

    Wednesday, December 14, 2016

    Christmas Cathedral Windows Treat

    Makes about 60

    1/4 pound butter or margarine
    12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
    1 cup chopped walnuts
    12 ounces colored mini marshmallows
    7 ounces sweetened grated coconut

    Heat butter and chocolate chips in top of a double boiler over low heat, stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth. Cool slightly. Toss marshmallows and nuts in a large bowl; stir in chocolate. Tear five 9-inch sheets of waxed paper and sprinkle each generously with coconut. Divide dough into fifths and place each fifth on a sheet of waxed paper. Roll tightly into 2-inch diameter logs and refrigerate overnight or until firm. Before serving, unwrap from waxed paper and cut into 1/2" slices.

    Creamy Taco Mac

    Looking for a delicious way to feed your family and know exactly what is in it.  This taco mac is super easy to make and very kid friendly. This make at home meal is perfect on those busy nights. 

    1 1/4 lb. ground meat (I used 1 lb. ground turkey, 1/4 lb. ground beef as that's what I had)
    8 oz. dry pasta + 1 cup reserved pasta water
    1 can (14.5 oz.) petite diced tomatoes
    4 Tbsp. mild taco seasoning
    3 oz. cream cheese
    1/2 cup sour cream
    S & P
    Cheddar Cheese to taste

    Directions:  Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook pasta per directions. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.  Over medium heat, brown meat until no longer pink. Drain and add taco seasoning and diced tomatoes. Allow to simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Add cooked pasta, reserved water, cream cheese and sour cream. Stir until cheese and cream is incorporated and melted. Simmer over low heat about 3 minutes. Season with S & P as desired. Top off with desired amount of cheddar cheese.

    -I used the whole package of taco seasoning.

    Here's what I started with:

    Here's how I did it:

    #1  I put the noodles in boiling water and cooked them according to the package.  I also browned the hamburger meat.

    #2 Once the beef was browned, I added a package of taco seasoning.

    #3 I added a can of diced tomatoes.

    #4 After the noodles were cooked, I drained them and added them to the ground beef.

    #5 Next, came 1/2 of a block of light cream cheese and 1/2 cup of sour cream.  Mix altogether.

    The Finished Product: