May you be blessed with warmth in your home, love in your heart, peace in your soul and joy in your life.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

By Special Request

Okay, so my sister has been asking and asking for my pumpkin cookie recipe. I've been putting her off by saying that I had to find the recipe for them. Unfortunately, I really have no idea what I've done with the recipe. But I was able to find this one from Libby's that seems to be pretty close to mine. Sorry, though. No picture of this one as I haven't made them lately to be able to take pictures. I do have pumpkin in the fridge right now leftover from bread I made over the weekend. So perhaps I'll get them made and be able to come back to post pictures. We'll see. you go Beckie!  

Pumpkin Cookies
  •  2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
  • 1 cup LIBBY'S 100% Pure Pumpkin
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease baking sheets. Combine dry ingredients in medium bowl. Cream sugar and butter in large mixer bowl. Beat in pumpkin, egg and vanilla extract until smooth. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until edges are firm. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Frost with cream cheese icing or powdered sugar glaze.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Mulled Cider

I have always liked to have a warm drink when it's cold outside.  My recipe box has tons of different versions of drinks, and I'm always bookmarking different recipes online to try out.  This is one we make when we're planning on having a crowd over, as it makes a pretty big batch.

Mulled Apple Cider

  • 6 cups apple cider
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 3 large slices crystallized ginger
  • 1 unpeeled orange, sliced thinly
Pour apple cider into a large pot. Add remaining ingredients.  Warm over medium low heat for an hour before serving.  This can also be made and kept warm in a crock pot to be enjoyed over several hours.  If you like your cider hard, add a shot of brandy when serving.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Beef Stew

So, B has been requesting to have beef stew all week.  But since it's better the  longer you can cook the beef, I've managed to put her off until today.  We make a variation of Tyler Florence's Ultimate Beef Stew as our favorite.  My mom prefers my sister's recipe, and did email me that (since my sister still hasn't!).   B specifically said she wanted her stew the same way as last time.  So, here we go. 

Beef Stew

  • 2 pounds beef chuck shoulder, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 2 cups red wine (we like Burgundy)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 large onion, cut into large dice
  • 4 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 6 large red potatoes, peeled and diced

Combine pepper and flour together in large Ziploc bag.  Put beef into bag and shake to combine.  Heat butter and olive oil together in large Dutch oven over medium high heat.  Brown meat evenly on all sides, working in batches to avoid crowding the pan.  You want meat to carmelize, not steam.  Remove each batch before starting another.  After all meat is browned, add onions and cook just for a minute to start to soften.  Add beef broth and stir quickly, removing browned bits from bottom of pan.  Add wine and bring to boil.  Add beef back into pan.  Lower heat to simmer and add thyme, bay leaves, and garlic.  Cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until meat is tender.  Add potatoes and carrots during the last 20 minutes of cooking time.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Sometimes we add frozen peas during the last few minutes.  Serve with crusty bread. 

Friday, November 19, 2010


 In honor of today's release of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows:Part 1", I decided that I would try out a recipe for butterbeer.  I was able to locate several recipes through searching online, and have combined and modified to come up with this version. Although it is served chilled at "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter" at Universal Studios, it is chilled in bottles or served hot in the books. Since it was chilly today, we had ours warmed up.  I enjoyed it very much, and also made a version for the girls by using 1/2 teaspoon rum extract instead of actual rum. 
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream, divided
  • 1 shot rum
  • 1 liter cream soda, warmed
    In a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar and water. Cook on medium heat, stirring often, until the mixture reads 240 degrees F on a candy thermometer.
    Stir in the butter, salt, vinegar and 1/4 cup heavy cream.  Remove from heat and add rum/extract.
    In a medium bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar mixture and the remaining 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Use an electric mixer to beat until just thickened, but not completely whipped, about 2 to 3 minutes.
    To serve, divide the brown sugar mixture between 4 tall glasses (about 1/4 cup for each glass). Add 1/4 cup of cream soda to each glass, then stir to combine. Fill each glass nearly to the top with additional cream soda, then spoon the whipped cream over each.

    I served these in beer mugs that I bought at Bed Bath and Beyond. Except for D's. She's not that big yet, so she had hers in a sippy cup. She's big enough for the kind with a straw at least. 

    Sunday, November 14, 2010

    Home again!

    Got to spend the day out at my mom's today. We baked 4 different things while the girls had their afternoon naps, then had dinner before coming home. So, no Sunday dinner post from me today. But will post recipes later for some of the things we baked today. We made snickerdoodle cookies, oatmeal date bars, pumpkin bars, and chocolate waffle cookies. Mom was nice enough to split with me, so we have goodies for the next few days. We had rib steaks that I grilled out on the barbecue (getting a little cold for that!) with red potatoes roasted in the oven, green salad, and sourdough bread.   So, to tide you over until I get that recipe post completed, here is a picture of the snickerdoodles. 
     Will work on recipes over the next few days. See you soon!

    (Oh, and happy birthday again to my sister Beckie--will post her beef stew recipe as soon as she sends it to me!)

    Saturday, November 13, 2010

    Getting chilly!

    So, the weather around here has definitely cooled off this week. That always makes me want to turn on the oven and make something really comforting. This most certainly fit into that requirement.  This recipe is modified slightly from one in the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. No matter what recipe I try from that book, it always turns out well. Glad to have that one in my library. 
    Scalloped Potatoes
    • 1 medium onion, finely diced
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 4 tablespoons butter (plus more for baking pan)
    • 4 tablespoons flour
    • 2 cups milk
    • 6 medium potatoes(about 2 pounds), thinly sliced
    • 1 cup diced ham
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Melt butter in saute pan. Add onions and garlic. Cook until softened and translucent, about 5-7 minutes over medium heat. Meanwhile, butter inside of 9 x 13" baking pan. Layer sliced potatoes in bottom of pan. Sprinkle diced ham over potatoes.  After onions have cooked, whisk in flour. Cook for another minute to ensure that you don't have that "raw flour" taste. Whisk in milk quickly to ensure that there are no lumps. Cook over medium heat until thickened and bubbly, about another 5 minutes or so. This step prevents milk from curdling while in the oven.  Salt and pepper to taste.  I didn't add any salt to mine as I knew our piece of ham was pretty salty on its own.  Pour sauce over layered potatoes and ham, spread evenly. 
     Cover tightly with foil and place in oven. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15-20 minutes, until potatoes are tender and top is lightly browned. Allow to cool 15 minutes before serving.  
     This picture was taken after we had removed the girls' servings to allow them to cool, but you can still get the idea as to how the top should look. We served this with steamed peas and toasted french bread. It's also great with a green salad!

    Friday, November 12, 2010

    Rivalry Game

    Around here, we're pretty big BSU football fans. Or, as the oldest likes to refer to it, BLUE FOOTBALL! We like to have good snacks in front of the TV while we watch the game. So far this season, we've had crab and artichoke dip with Parmesan baguette crisps, potato skins with bacon, green onions, cheddar, and sour cream. We've had egg rolls and cheddar cheese balls (think mozzarella cheese sticks but better). We've done supreme nachos with ground beef. No hot wings though. I'm not a Tabasco fan. The hubby, he likes them.  Thinking maybe we'll have wings with an Asian twist one of these games. Those I can do!
    So, today is a big day in our football world. Rivalry game. Boise State vs. University of Idaho. And we're playing at their stadium. Rivalry record? BSU takes it. 21-17-1. With the big game today, we need to have big snacks. Here's what we decided on.  Chili Cheese Fries!  Easy enough to fix after getting kids picked up and before kickoff. I simply used frozen french fries, fried crispy in the deep fat fryer. Topped with homemade chili, shredded Tillamook sharp cheddar, and finely diced onion.  I'll post a chili recipe one day soon, but for now, a few pictures!

    Homemade chili.
    Final product.

    That's all you get today guys! GAME TIME!  GO BRONCOS!!

    Monday, November 8, 2010


    I promised the recipe for the noodles to go in Sunday's post for Chicken and Noodles. This is my Aunt Barb's interpretation of my Grandma Mary's egg noodles. Funny story behind getting this recipe, as it came to me through my Aunt Mary Ellen. From what my mom says, Aunt ME spent hours as a newlywed watching my grandma make these, trying to get the technique down. The original recipe called for a half shell full of water per egg. Aunt ME couldn't fathom measuring with an egg shell.  I've modified it slightly from what Aunt Barb has, as the original called for a tablespoon of salt per egg and that just scared me. So, here we go. 
    • 4 eggs
    • 2 tablespoons salt
    • 4 tablespoons water
    • 4 cups of flour
    Crack eggs into a medium sized bowl. Add salt and water.  Beat until the eggs are a yellowy frothy group of bubbles. (Too much will make the eggs go flat.)

    Add a cup of flour at a time and mix with a fork, no more than 3 1/2 cups of flour for 4 eggs.
    The dough should be just a bit sticky. Allow to rest for ten minutes so that it will be easier to roll out.   Sprinkle a generous amount of remaining flour onto your counter or cutting board. Flour the top of the dough and your rolling pin. You want a good amount of flour as it will help to thicken the broth. 
    Roll out to approximately 1/4" thickness. Slice into desired thickness and length. I like to use a pizza cutter for this part. 

    Let the noodles sit for a half hour before putting into the chicken broth to cook. They dry out a bit then cook up better for some reason. Make sure the broth is boiling before you put the noodles into cook.  Cook the noodles on a slow boil for about 20 minutes.

    Sunday, November 7, 2010

    Sunday Dinner

    I love Sundays, mostly because of Sunday dinner. Sunday dinner was one of my favorite things growing up, and I'm trying to instill that into my girls as well. It was always a time to get together as a family, and enjoy a meal that we wouldn't have time for during the busy week. 
    For this Sunday, then, I thought I would share a few things. First, some pictures of my family.  Here is my hubby, J. This shot was taken while we were fishing up in Cascade last fall.
    Next, a picture of our oldest daughter, B.  Here she's been working on a jigsaw puzzle with her dad.
     And this is our youngest daughter, D. Yes, she is usually this crazy. But, gosh, she's fun!
     So, since I'm such a fan of Sunday dinners, here's what we have planned for today. The oldest had requested beef stew, but of course she made that request after we had returned from the grocery store. So I hadn't gotten any stew meat. But I always have chickens in the freezer. So we're having one of my all time favorite Sunday dinners. Chicken and noodles with mashed potatoes. Yes, noodles and mashed potatoes. Carb overload!!  
    First, for the chicken:
    • 1 chicken, approx 2-3 pounds
    • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
    • 3 celery stalks, cut into chunks
    • 1 onion, unpeeled and cut into quarters
    • 1 head garlic, unpeeled and cut in half
    • 6 whole peppercorns
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 20 stems fresh parsley (or sub 1 tablespoon dried)
    • 6 sprigs fresh thyme (or sub 1 teaspoon dried)
    Place chicken into bottom of stock pot. Add remaining ingredients and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower heat to medium low and simmer until chicken is tender and falling from bone. Usually takes around an hour on my stove.
    Remove chicken from pot and allow to cool until able to handle and shred. Discard carcass. Strain stock and return to pot. Bring to a boil to cook noodles (recipe to follow). Cook noodles in simmering stock for approximately 20 minutes, returning chicken to pot when about 5 minutes remain. With homemade noodles, the flour will help to thicken the stock until the consistency is almost to a gravy. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with homemade mashed potatoes (will post a recipe if needed-let me know!)
     Making the chicken

     Chicken and noodles in the pot
    All finished!

    Saturday, November 6, 2010

    Feet first!

    After browsing the blog world for the past 6 months or so, I have finally decided to try out my own. I'm sure at first that it will lack the focus that some of my favorites have, but no one ever succeeded with trying first. So, we'll see what happens here. I have friends that have started their own blogs about scrapbooking and cooking, and I like both of those. I'm a much better cook than I am a scrapbooker. So, you'll see many more posts about cooking and baking from me than you will about scrapbooking and papercrafting. 
    So, for my first post....

    I thought I would pass along my first attempt at cheesecake. I have always been intimidated by cheesecake. The whole water bath idea petrified me. Seriously! You expect me to put a pan that the bottom comes out of into a pan full of water? I don't care if you wrap it in foil! That can't work!  Well, it does work. And this cheesecake turned out amazing. This was my husband's request for his birthday cake. He isn't the biggest fan of cake, and most certainly is not a frosting fan. So I shouldn't have been surprised at this request. 

    This recipe is based off a copycat recipe for the Cheesecake Factory Vanilla Bean Cheesecake. But my brother and his fiancee were nice enough to pick me up a jar of vanilla bean paste that I have absolutely fallen in love with, so that was one of the changes that I made. 
      Birthday Cheesecake

    • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs 
    • 1/2 cup ground pecans
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 8 tablespoons melted butter
    • 2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature
    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    • 2 tablespoons vanilla bean paste
    • 4 eggs, room temperature
    • 4 tablespoons heavy cream
    Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prep springform pan by putting pan together and wrapping with a double layer of aluminum foil. Begin to prep water bath by heating kettle full of water to boiling and getting out baking pan. I was able to use a 9 x 13 pan for my springform pan. 

    In medium bowl, mix together crust ingredients until well blended (should resemble wet sand). Pour into springform pan. Using a spoon or back of measuring cup, press crumbs into even layer covering bottom of pan and approximately an inch up the sides.  Place pan into heated oven and bake for 8-10 minutes until set and golden brown. Remove from oven and cool completely. 

    In large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth and creamy. A stand mixer is great for this part. Slowly add sugar, a few tablespoons at a time. After blended, add flour and vanilla bean paste and mix thoroughly.  Add the eggs and heavy cream and mix well. Pour mixture into prepared crust. Place pan into empty baking pan and center in oven. Pour hot water around the springform pan. Be sure to avoid pouring over the foil wrapping. Bake for 55-70 minutes until edges are set but center is still slightly soft and wiggly. Remove baking pan from oven. Cool for 15 minutes in water bath, then remove and cool in pan for at least an hour. Place into refrigerator for at least 6 hours. It's better if you can leave it overnight (allows the flavors to blend).  

     When ready to serve, remove outer ring from pan and slice evenly. I use a heated knife. Can serve with any desired toppings.