12/30/17

Celebrate the New Year

Both New Year's Eve and New Year's Day are occasions for enjoying food and friends. Whether you're celebrating by yourself or with twenty, here are some ideas for the nosh, from appetizers to chili or soup. Then on New Year's Day, serve everyone black-eyed peas for good luck.


Playoff Chili



Bacon Wrapped JalapeƱo Appetizers



Dilly Beef Cheese Ball

























--And for New Year's Day --





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12/25/17

Blueberry Coffee Cake

Bundt cakes are loved for their versatility, and this blueberry coffee cake is great for multiple occasions. It will steal the show at a brunch, and it's also the star on a dessert table. Anyone can look like an expert baker with the presentation of this big, beautiful cake.








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Blueberry Coffee Cake

Cake
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 (8 ounce) carton sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, 1 tablespoon flour, and cinnamon; set aside. In a large bowl, beat butter at medium speed of an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition. Combine 3 cups flour, baking powder, and baking soda; add to butter mixture alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix at low speed after each addition until blended. Stir in vanilla extract. Pour 1/3 of batter in prepared pan, sprinkle with half the blueberries and half the reserved brown sugar mixture. Repeat layers, ending with the batter. Bake for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 20 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Remove cake from pan; continue cooling on wire rack.

Glaze
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 - 2 tablespoons milk

In a small bowl, stir together powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon milk until smooth. If glaze is too thick, stir in additional tablespoon of milk a few drops at a time until desired consistency is reached . Drizzle over cooled cake.





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12/15/17

Chicken and Dumplings

Chicken and dumplings is the perfect winter comfort food. This may not be your mama's chicken and dumplings recipe, but no one will complain. It's tasty, easy, and delicious.





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Chicken and Dumplings

1 (4 - 5 lb.) whole chicken, stewed and deboned, broth reserved
1 (32 oz.) container chicken broth
1 (12 oz.) package flour tortillas, cut into strips about 1 inch x 2 inches
1 (10.5 oz.) can cream of chicken soup
Salt and pepper

In a large dutch oven, bring reserved broth and chicken broth to a boil. Add tortilla strips to broth. Cover and cook for 5 - 10 minutes until tortilla strips are tender. Stir in cream of chicken soup and chicken pieces. Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for an additional 10 minutes.





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9/29/17

Halloween Cookies

Decorated cookies are fun for kids, but they do take extra time to make. The good news is you don't have to stress over decorating cookies at the last minute for a holiday. These cookies can be baked ahead and frozen. Freeze them plain or already decorated, just bag them or wrap them up tightly in foil. Fill your freezer with ghosts and pumpkins and you'll be ready for a Halloween party.







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Vanilla - Almond Sugar Cookies

3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup vanilla sugar (sugar that has been stored with a vanilla bean)
2 sticks (1 cup) salted butter, cold and cut into pieces
1 egg
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a sheet pan by lining with parchment paper. In a small bowl, combine the flour and baking powder; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the sugar and butter. Add the egg, vanilla extract, and almond extract, mix well. Gradually add the flour mixture, and mix until combined, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl. This will be a crumbly dough and must be kneaded together after it is poured out on the floured rolling surface. Roll the dough from 1/4 to 3/8-inch thick, then cut out into shapes. Place cookies onto prepared pan and place pan in freezer for 5 minutes before baking. Bake in preheated oven for 10 -12 minutes. Allow to cool on pan for a few minutes, then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Royal Icing

4 tablespoons meringue powder
scant 1/2 cup water
1 pound powdered sugar (MUST be sifted)
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
a few drops of almond extract

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the meringue powder and water, beat with the paddle attachment until foamy. Sift in the powdered sugar and beat on low until combined. Add the corn syrup and almond extract and beat on medium/high to high for about 5 minutes or until the icing is glossy and stiff peaks form. Icing can be used in this form for outlining or for projects such as gingerbread houses. To use for cookie icing for "flooding," thin with 1 teaspoon water at a time until the consistency of syrup.


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9/23/17

Cream Cheese Pound Cake

This cake may look plain, but it's one of the best cakes ever. It's flavorful enough to serve all by itself, or it can be dressed up with fruit and whipped cream. I've made this cake to give away for different occasions, and it's always a success.








Print recipe

Cream Cheese Pound Cake

1 1/2 cups butter, softened
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
3 cups sugar
6 eggs
3 cups all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt or tube pan. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating well. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until combined after each one is added. Combine flour and salt, then gradually add to butter mixture, beating at low speed just until blended. Stir in vanilla. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour and 40 minutes or until inserted wooden pick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes before removing from pan. Allow cake to cool completely on wire rack.


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9/8/17

Aprons as Gifts

We all know how much home cooks love a pretty apron, but there are others who appreciate aprons, too. At a recent writers' conference, I received an apron as a door prize. This hand made apron is perfect for writers, teachers, and librarians.






I wanted to share this apron and its cute design because it's never too soon to start thinking about hand made gifts for occasions such as Christmas. There's probably someone on your gift list who would love one of these aprons. I'm calling it my literacy apron.

8/18/17

Ginger Tea

Many tea drinkers have their favorite variety, but I have to admit I like all kinds. My choice depends on the time of day and how I'm feeling. Few days pass that I don't enjoy both hot tea and iced tea of some kind. I do try to avoid any caffeinated teas after lunch, but the good news is, there are lots of decaffeinated choices available.

Naturally caffeine free ginger tea is one of my favorite choices. This tea is good any time of day, especially if you've been bitten by the nausea bug. Brew it up fresh and drink to your health.








Print Recipe

Ginger Tea

4 cups water
1/4 cup grated ginger root
lemon (optional)
honey (optional)

Bring water to boiling. Place grated ginger in tea pot or other container. Pour boiling water over ginger. Allow to steep about 5 minutes. Strain into cups. Add lemon and sweeten with honey, if desired. Leftover tea may be refrigerated and reheated or served iced.


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