©Life of a Foodie and Her Family 2008-2013, Lynn Tabor



Focaccia version 2

I just made this to go along with spaghetti & meatballs.

1 cup water warm
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups bread flour
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbs Italian seasoning
2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Place all of the ingredients into the pan of your bread machine. Program for Dough or Manual, and press Start.

At the end of the cycle, remove the dough from the machine and punch it down. Roll it out to form a rectangle, and transfer it to a cookie sheet, 10 x 15-inch to 12 x 18-inch. Pat the dough into the pan.

With your fingertips make indents all over the dough.

Sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper. Drizzle a little more olive oil on the dough.

You can also sprinkle on more herbs, minced garlic, chopped sun dried tomatoes, or sauteed onions.

Preheat your oven to 450.

Allow focaccia to rise 30 minutes to 45 minutes in a warm location.

Bake focaccia for 15 to 20 minutes until nicely browned.

Oven Baked Fries

I made these last night to go along with burgers. They were really good!!!

6 Russet Potatoes
1/4 cup light olive oil
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp kosher or sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tbs McKormick Parmesan blend

Preheat oven to 425 and line two cookie sheets with foil.

Wash the potatoes then cut them lengthwise into wedges as thin as possible. It is OK if some are thicker.

Place the oil and potatoes in a Ziploc back and toss.

In a small bowl mix up the seasonings.

Pour potatoes out onto the cookie sheets. Sprinkle with seasonings adding more if you prefer. Toss the potatoes a bit. Make sure they are in a single layer.

Bake for 20 minutes. Then rotate the pans and gently flip the potatoes. Bake for another 20 minutes to get very crispy.

Be aware that these do smoke a lot because of the oil. Every few minutes I would crack the oven door a bit to vent out the smoke.


Ham and Swiss Pie (with picture)

I make this Ham & Swiss Pie every Christmas break, OK well maybe three or four times over break. It is so good!!

I made one for breakfast this morning and had to take a picture of it. It is definitely a family favorite!


Italian Sausage Soup

Victoria picked this out of a magazine, but I am doubling some of the ingredients. Below is how I am making it right now.

2 pounds Italian Sausage links (casing removed and any kind that you like. I am using sweet)
1 large onion chopped
2 large carrots chopped
2 large stalks of celery chopped
8 cups chicken stock (2 boxes)
1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 8 oz can of tomato sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tsp dried Italian seasoning
2 bay leaves
1/2 to 1 cup dried orzo pasta

In a large dutch oven, cook sausage, onion, carrot and celery over medium high heat until sausage is brown, stirring to break up meat as it cooks. Drain well.

Add stock, tomatoes, tomato sauce, garlic, Italian seasoning and bay leaves to sausage mixture. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 1 hour.

Add uncooked pasta. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes more.

Discard bay leaves. If desired top each serving with a little shredded Parmesan cheese.

Farmhouse White Bread (1 1/2 pound loaf)

This is the bread that I am making to go along with dinner.

1 cup milk (warmed slightly)
1 egg
2 tbs unsalted butter softened
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbs sugar
3 cups bread flour
1 1/2 tsp bread machine yeast.

Add ingredients to your breadmachine in order from the manufactures directions.

White bread setting, medium crust.

I actually took the dough out after the first rise and put it into a loaf pan. It rose for 4o minutes then baked at 350 for 35 minutes.

For some reason, my breadmachine has been baking the bread a little to light lately.

Bananas Foster French Toast

Merry Christmas everyone! I finally settled on what I am making for Christmas Morning breakfast. I usually make a savory egg casserole and something sweet. For my sweet this year I am going to make Bananas Foster French Toast!! I found this on the Betty Crocker website.

8 slices cinnamon bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 8 cups)
8 eggs
1 cup milk
2 1/2 cups real maple syrup
1 teaspoon rum extract
6 ripe bananas, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 cup chopped pecans

Spray bottom of 13x9-inch (3-quart) baking dish with cooking spray. Arrange bread cubes in baking dish. In large bowl, beat eggs, milk and 1/2 cup of the maple syrup with wire whisk. Pour over bread in baking dish. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

Heat oven to 350°F. Uncover; bake 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown along edges. Let stand 7 to 10 minutes before serving.

Meanwhile, in medium microwavable bowl, microwave remaining 2 cups maple syrup uncovered on High 1 to 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until warm. Stir in rum extract.

Sprinkle banana slices and pecans evenly over bread; drizzle with warmed syrup mixture. Serve immediately.

edited: 12/28 to add the picture



Marcel bought me a Keurig Coffee Maker for Christmas. I LOVE IT!!! It is so much easier, I can have what I like and Marcel can make what he likes.

So far I have had a cup of the Green Mountain Breakfast blend, a cup of Green Mountain Spicy Eggnog, and a cup of Van Houtte French Vanilla. Ohhh so good!

I can't wait to try some hot chocolate...


New Cookbooks!

Marcel and Victoria bought me new cookbooks for Christmas. The first one I opened was Sandra Lee's Cocktail Time, oh boy does it have some great recipes and I can't wait to try some out.

The second one is Back to Basics by Ina Garten and I have been wanting this one since it came out.

The last one, Victoria picked out all by herself. It is Emeril's 20-40-60. I looked through it and it also has some great recipes.


Easy Breakfast Bake

So for my savory breakfast item, I am making a family favorite from the Betty Crocker website. I have been making this one for years.

2 packages (12 oz each) bulk pork sausage
1 medium bell pepper, chopped (1 cup)
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
3 cups frozen hash brown potatoes
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (8 oz)
1 cup Original Bisquick® mix
2 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 eggs

Heat oven to 400°F. Grease rectangular baking dish, 13x9x2 inches. Cook sausage, bell pepper and onion in 10-inch skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sausage is no longer pink; drain. Stir together sausage mixture, potatoes and 1 1/2 cups of the cheese in baking dish.

Stir Bisquick mix, milk, pepper and eggs until blended. Pour into baking dish.

Bake uncovered 40 to 45 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 1 to 2 minutes longer or just until cheese is melted. Cool 5 minutes.


Rolled Sugar Cookies

I just made a batch of rolled sugar cookies that will get decorated tomorrow. They are of course by Wilton.

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 egg
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons clear vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon no-color almond extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Makes: About 3 dozen cookies.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

In mixing bowl, cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and extracts. Mix flour, baking powder and salt; add to butter mixture 1 cup at a time, mixing after each addition. Do not chill dough. Divide dough into 2 balls. On a floured surface, roll each ball into a circle approximately 12 in. wide and 1/8 in. thick. Dip cookie cutter in flour before each use. Bake cookies on ungreased cookie sheet 6-7 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned.

Recipe may be doubled.

Gingerbread Men

I just made a couple dozen Gingerbread Men to decorate later tonight or tomorrow. I love the Wilton recipe because there is no chilling involved.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup molasses
1 egg , beaten
Makes: Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt and spices. In large saucepan, melt shortening; cool slightly. Stir in sugar, molasses and egg; mix well. Add 2 cups flour mixture; mix well. Turn mixture onto lightly floured surface. Knead in remaining flour mixture by hand. Add additional flour, if necessary, to make firm dough. Roll out on a lightly floured surface to 1/4-in. thickness.

Bake on ungreased cookie sheet until lightly browned on edges, about 10-15 minutes. Cool on cookie sheet placed on cooling grid 3 minutes; remove from cookie sheet and cool completely.

*Substitute 3/4 cup light corn syrup for molasses to make Blonde Gingerbread.

I will add some pictures after they are decorated.


Swiss Chicken Casserole

I picked up the magazine, Betty Crocker's Best-Loved Casseroles the other day. There are many recipes that I have already picked out. Tonight is Swiss Chicken Casserole.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Start to finish 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 8

4 cups boiling water
2 boxes sun-dried tomato Florentine long grain and wild rice mix (Uncle Ben's)
4 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
8 slices thick sliced cooked deli ham (about 10 oz)
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
4 slices Swiss cheese, cut in half

Heat oven to 350. Spray a 13x9 inch glass baking dish with cooking spray. In a baking dish, stir boiling water, rice and rice seasoning mixes.

Cut chicken breasts in half lengthwise; wrap ham slice around each chicken piece. Stir in bell pepper into rice. Place wrapped chicken over rice.

Cover with roil. Bake 40 to 45 minutes. Uncover; bake about 10 minutes longer or until liquid is absorbed and chicken is no longer pink in center.

Top each chicken breast with cheese slice. Bake uncovered 3 to 4 minutes or until cheese is melted.


Mint Surprise Cookies

After a busy week I realized I didn't have enough time to make rolled cookies for my neighbor's cookie swap. While going through the Wilton Cookie Exchange Book, I found a recipe called Mint Surprise Cookies.

2 1/4 cups all purpose four
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cups unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tsp Wilton Pure Vanilla Extract
40 to 50 Wilton Dark Cocoa Mint Candy Melts
Additional Wilton Dark Cocoa Candy Melts, melted (optional)

Preheat oven to 375. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg, yolk and vanilla; mix well. Add flour mixture; stir until just combined. Roll dough into 1 inch balls; press one candy melt into center of each ball, shaping dough around candy to cover completely. Place cookies 2 inches apart on cookie sheets.

Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Remove cookies to a cooling grid; cool completely. If desired, place on parchment paper. Drizzle cookies with additional melted candy and chill until set.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

I am going to double the above recipe.

Wilton Cookie Exchange Book

Anyone that knows me, knows that I love baking especially cookies. I picked the Wilton Cookie Exchange Book a few weeks ago at Walmart. It has loads of recipes and loads of pictures of cookie decorating ideas. I am going to make some this week for Santa. You will have to check it out the book.


Tin Can Santa

The kids are making this tonight at our last Christmas workshop. I made some changes to the directions though.


1 empty, clean metal can
white, peach and pink acrylic paint
medium pink pom pom
2 small wiggle eyes
Cotton balls
6-8 medium white or silver sparkle pom poms
1 sheet red glitter felt
2” wide x 8” long strip of white glitter felt
White craft glue
Hot glue gun

Paint entire aluminum can with white paint.

Paint a section in the front of the can peach (or whatever skin tone color you like) for the face. I used Folk Art 949 Skintone.

Take one cotton ball and stretch it out so that fits all the way around the rim of the can. Glue in place about ½” below the rim. This is Santa’s hair. (I actually used two)

Lay strip of white glitter felt on the table. With hot glue gun, fold over edges and tack in place on both sides. This will create a thick and smooth brim for Santa’s hat that will not show any uneven cutting lines. Set aside. (I tried it and it was just a little to short so I used another strip and didn't fold it over.)

Position the red glitter felt around the top of the can, above the hair (stretched cotton ball). Glue in place and let dry. You will finish Santa’s red hat in a later step.

Meanwhile, glue the white felt in place over the top of the red felt and the cotton to form the brim of Santa’s hat.

Using white craft glue, add Santa’s beard by gluing cotton balls all around the can, leaving enough room open for his face. (I did put a staple in the end of the hat just to keep it together)

To complete Santa’s red hat, tuck the red felt into a cone shape, using hot glue to tack in place if you like. Fold felt over the side of the can and hot glue to the side.

Glue wiggle eyes in place.

Glue the pink pom pom on for the nose.

Use an extra cotton ball to dab on the cheeks, using a small amount of pink paint. (I skipped that step)

Hot glue the silver or white glitter pom poms to the end of the red felt.

I also did not like the look of the plain white can so I took a few cotton balls and pulled them apart and glued them on to the back to give Santa some more hair.

Instead of hot glue, I used fabric tac. It worked pretty good.

So what do you think? Oh the reason for the green felt, was because the store didn't have a lot of red left so I bought the rest and some green.


Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer cupcakes

I totally forgot to share what I made last week at work. They are called Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer cupcakes. They came out so cute!

A cooled cupcake (baked from your favorite recipe)
Chocolate frosting
Round, red lollipops (we actually used a cherry candy)
M&M's candies (we used mini marshmallows with mini chocolate chips for the eyes)
Black decorators' gel frosting
Red shoestring licorice

To make one, first frost a cooled cupcake (baked from your favorite recipe) with chocolate frosting.

Unwrap a round, red lollipop (or a cherry candy), trim the stem slightly, and stick it into the center of the cupcake for Rudolph's very shiny nose.

For eyes, set 2 M&M's candies in place, then dot them with black decorators' gel frosting. We just used a mini marshmallows with a mini chocolate chip for the eyes.

Carefully break large thin pretzels into antler shapes (this may take some practice!) and insert them into the top of the cupcake.

Finally, add a short piece of red shoestring licorice for a mouth.


Chicken and Couscous

This is what I am making for dinner tonight. I needed something quick because I will be gone most of the day trying to start and finish Christmas shopping and then Jimmy has a doctor's appointment.

2 tbs olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 pound chicken tenders (I am using breasts and slicing them in strips)
1 1/2 cups uncooked couscous
1/2 tsp salt
1 (14 oz) can diced tomato with roasted garlic, undrained
1 (15 oz) can chick peas, drained and rinsed
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cumin
1 cup frozen peas
1/4 tsp red hot

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion; cook for 3 minutes. Add chicken and cook for 5 more minutes, stir a few times.

While chicken is cooking, bring 2 1/2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add couscous and salt; cover and remove from heat. Let stand 10 minutes.

While couscous is standing, add tomatoes, chick peas and spices to chicken mixture and mix well. Reduce heat to medium low. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add peas and Red Hot, mix well. Cover and cook 5 minutes more or until chicken is no longer pink in the center.

Fluff couscous with fork. Serve chicken mixture over couscous.


Italian Sausage Supper

Here is what I am making for dinner.

1 pound mild Italian sausage, casing removed
1 cup chopped onion
3 medium zucchini, sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
2/3 cup (6 oz can) tomato paste
1 cup water
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups cooked rice
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese

In a large skillet, brown sausage with onion, stirring to break up sausage; drain reserving 1 tbs drippings.

Spoon sausage mixture into a greased 2 qt casserole dish. Add zucchini to skillet; saute for 5 minutes until crisp tender.

In a medium bowl, combine tomato paste, water, basil and salt. Stir in rice. Spoon over sausage mixture. Arrange zucchini slices on top; sprinkle with the cheeses. Cover and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.


Magic Reindeer Food

The kids will also be making some Magic Reindeer food to use on Christmas Eve.


1 cup rolled oats
2-6 Tbsp red colored sugar
2-6 Tbsp. green colored sugar
1 - 2 Tbsp glitter

Mix the ingredients together and place in a plastic bag, adding as much colored sugar as you like for a festive effect.

Tie with a ribbon and attach the following poem:

Sprinkle this reindeer food outside tonight.
The moonlight will make it sparkle bright.
As the reindeer fly and roam.
This will guide them to your home.

They will be putting it into a ziplock bag. I also printed the the poem onto Avery Business Cards.

Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer Ornament

This is what the kids will be making this week, during Rudolph Week.

It is the same basic instructions as the black cat that we made.

Find out how to make this fun cat craft using a clothespin and a few other supplies.Age Guideline: 6 Years and UpTime required: 30 minutes (Does not include drying time)

The above age and time guidelines are estimates. This project can be modified to suit other ages and may take more or less time depending on your circumstances.

Materials Needed:
3 Flat, One-Piece, Wooden Clothespins
Small Pom-poms
Wiggle Eyes
Craft Paint
Paint Brush


Paint the three clothespins whatever color you want your reindeer to be. One of them will be the reindeer's head and the other two will be the legs and body.

Start out by gluing two of the clothespins flat sides together so the prongs line up as they will be the reindeer's four legs.

Glue the third clothespin, flat sides together onto the two clothespins you previously glued together; however, you will turn this one so these prongs face the opposite direction of the other prongs. These will be the reindeer's ears.Now you can add the finishing touches! Glue a pom-pom onto the rounded part of the head clothespin to be the nose and glue the wiggle eyes just above it.

You can also add a cute bow by the ears or under the chin. Don't forget to add a white pom pom for the tail.

If you want to use this clothespin cat as an ornament, cut a piece of ribbon about 10-inches long and tie the two ends together to make a loop. Glue the loop to the back side of the reindeer's head.

I think we need to make a mouth somehow, maybe a white gel pen.


Snowman Soup

The kids tonight also will be making some Snowman Soup to take home.

Arrange the following ingredients in a small loot/goody bag.

1 individual pack hot chocolate mix
2 Hershey's chocolate kisses (eyes)
4 chocolate chips (mouth)
5-10 mini-marshmallows
1 small candy cane

Print a gift tag to go with the Snowman Soup. I did make one earlier this week and it is listed on my Crafty Blog.

Jolly Snowman Faces

Jolly Snowman Faces, aren't they cute? I found them weeks ago on the Betty Crocker site when I was looking for something to make for Snowman week. I am going to bake the cookies soon so they will be nice and cool for the kids tonight.

1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker® sugar cookie mix
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 egg
1 container (12 oz) Betty Crocker® Whipped fluffy white frosting
Red string licorice
Assorted candies

1. Heat oven to 375°F. In medium bowl, stir cookie mix, butter and egg until soft dough forms. On ungreased cookie sheets, drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart.

2. Bake 11 to 14 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.

3. Frost and decorate 1 cookie at a time. After spreading frosting on cookie, add licorice for band of earmuffs and candies for ear "covers" and snowman face.

For the assorted candies, I got a couple boxes of Gummy Lifesavers for the ear muffs, semi sweet chocolate chips for the eyes, orange tic tacs for the "carrot" nose and Pull n' Peel Twizzlers for the mouth and piece that holds the ear muffs on.

I cannot wait to see how the kids do with them, I bet they will be super cute and of course YUMMY!


Snowman Soup

The kids at work will be making Snowman Soup to bring home. I made a cute set of labels/postcards to go along with it. I put four of this pictures on a a sheet of notecard paper or you could just use a good cardstock.

The recipe for Snowman Soup:

1 individual pack hot chocolate mix
3 Hershey's chocolate kisses
10-15 mini-marshmallows
1 Candy Cane

Place all in a pretty Christmas clear ziplock bag or "goody" bag.

Attach the poem with a festive ribbon.

Gingerbread Pancakes

I made these for my lunch, mmm they are really good!

Gingerbread Pancakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Dash of ground cloves
2 tablespoons molasses
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg, lightly beaten

In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. In a small bowl, whisk together the molasses, oil, buttermilk, and egg. Slowly pour liquids into the flour mixture and stir until mixed, do not over mix. Cook the pancakes on a warmed, lightly greased griddle. This recipe makes ten to twelve medium-size pancakes.


Cranberry Apple Pork Loin

Here is what just went into my crock pot for dinner.

1 (3 to 4 lb) boneless pork loin roast
1 can whole cranberry sauce
1/4 c brown sugar
1/2 c apple juice , warmed for about a minute in the microwave
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 Granny Smith apples, cored, peeled and coarsely chopped

Place the pork loin into your crock pot.

In a medium bowl mix all the other ingredients (except apples) until well mixed. Add the apples and mix lightly. Pour over the pork loin. Cover and cook on low for 6 hour or until a meat thermometer reaches 160.


Chocolate Chip Muffins

Brrr, it is a chily here in SW Florida this morning. Victoria and I made a batch of Chocolate Chip Muffins. While they were baking, I pulled out two sets of my Tea For One pots. We enjoyed a cup or two of hot tea. She had her favorite peppermint tea and I had English Breakfast.

This makes one dozen muffins.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup light-brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup butter -- melted and cooled
2 eggs - beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 package (12 oz) chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400 F. and grease twelve muffin cups.

In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugars, baking powder, and salt.

In another bowl, stir together milk, eggs, butter, and vanilla until blended.

Make a well in center of dry ingredients; add milk mixture and stir just to combine. Stir in chocolate chips. Spoon batter into muffin cups; bake 15-20 minutes, or until a knife inserted in center of one muffin comes out clean.

Remove muffin tin to wire rack; cool 5 minutes and remove from tins to finish cooling.

Serve warm.

Cinnamon Ornaments (NOT EDIBLE!!!)

Cinnamon Ornaments (NOT EDIBLE!!!)

We made a similar recipe last year when Victoria was in 1st grade. Our nephew Mikey is down for the weekend and helped decorate the tree. When I pulled Victoria's ornament out from last year it still smelled so great. Everyone asked if we could make some this year. Sure...I had to run to the store to pick up some stuff so I picked up a few big bottles of cinnamon.

Making Cinnamon Ornaments are a perfect holiday fun activity for kids. The ornaments are easy to make and their aroma lasts long after the holidays are over.
Makes 12 to 15 ornaments.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 2 1/2 hours or 1 to 2 days drying time

Ingredients: 3/4 cup applesauce
1 bottle (4.12 ounces) McCormick® Cinnamon, Ground

Supplies needed:
Cookie cutters
Drinking straw
Colorful ribbon


1. Preheat oven to 200°F.

2. Mix applesauce and cinnamon in small bowl until a smooth ball of dough is formed. (You may need use your hands to incorporate all of the cinnamon.) Using about 1/4 of the dough at a time, roll dough to 1/4-inch to 1/3-inch thickness between two sheets of plastic wrap. Peel off top sheet of plastic wrap. Cut dough into desired shapes with 2- to 3-inch cookie cutters. Make a hole in top of ornament with drinking straw. Place ornaments on baking sheet.

3. Bake 2 1/2 hours. Cool ornaments on wire rack. (Or, to dry ornaments at room temperature, carefully place them on wire rack. Let stand 1 to 2 days or until thoroughly dry, turning occasionally.)

4. Insert ribbon through holes and tie to hang. Decorate with opaque paint markers, found in arts and crafts stores, if desired.

Tips:Test Kitchen Tip: If a different size bottle of cinnamon is used, measure 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cinnamon.


Victoria and Mikey having fun with the dough.

All cut out and ready to go into the oven to dry. About 90 minutes into the drying I took them out and flipped them over. Then put them back in for another 60 minutes.

Here they are this morning, all dried and ready for ribbon.


Caramel Apple Pie

I also made this pie for Thanksgiving.

2 (9 inch) prepared pie crusts
8 granny smith apples
lemon juice
1 small jar of Caramel Ice Cream topping

Peel, core, and thinly slice the apples, store in a bowl with some lemon juice to keep from turning brown until needed.

Preheat Oven to 425°F.

Pour approximately 3/4 of caramel mixture over apples and toss to coat.

Place bottom crust in a deep dish pie pan.

Fill with apple slices (it may seem like a lot, so mound them up).

Cover with a lattice top crust and pour remaining caramel over the top, pouring carefully so it doesn't spill out. Or toss all caramel with apples and cover with a vented top crust. (I went with the second option and used a small heart cookie cutter to vent the crust with)

Place on a cookie sheet (for runoff) and bake for 15 minutes.

Reduce temperature to 350F and cover pie crust and continue baking for 35-45 minutes or until apples are soft.

Pumpkin Praline Pie

I made this one this morning for Thanksgiving.

9 inches pastry crust, unbaked (my glass pie dishes are actually 9 1/2 inch)
1/3 cup finely toasted and chopped pecans
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 cup half and half


Preheat oven to 450.

Fit pastry crust into 9" pie plate. Prick crust all over with fork.

Combine pecans, 1/3 cup brown sugar, and butter in a small bowl, and press firmly into bottom of pie crust.

Bake for 10 minutes.

Stir together eggs, pumpkin, 2/3 cup brown sugar, flour, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. Gradually blend in half and half until mixture is smooth a creamy. Pour into partially baked shell.

Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 325 degrees and bake an additional 40-45 minutes. At about 20 minutes into the baking I wrapped the pie crust edges with aluminum foil so it wouldn't burn.


Apricot-Cranberry Pork Roast

Hmmm, it feels like a slow cooked pork roast kind of day.

1 3-5 lbs boneless pork roast
1 (15 ounce) can whole berry cranberry sauce
1/2 cup apricot preserves
1/2 cup apple juice, can use cider
1 (1 ounce) envelope onion soup mix
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary (I am using a stalk from my plant out back)
4 large carrots, peeled and sliced into 2 inch pieces
2 stalks of celery, sliced into 2 inch pieces
1 onion cut into wedges

Put the carrots, celery, and onion on the bottom of your crockpot. (Since I am using a stalk of rosemary, I am going to place the whole stalk in the bottom of the crock pot with the veggies instead of crushing the leaves.)

Next, put the boneless pork roast in the crockpot.

In a small bowl, whisk together all remaining ingredients until well-blended.

Pour sauce mixture over pork.

Cook on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high 4 to 6 hours.


Pecan Cinnamon Rolls

I actually made these yesterday. They are really yummy!

1 cup milk, warmed for about 30 seconds in the microwave
1 large egg, slightly beaten
4 tablespoons butter, softened
3 1/3 cups bread flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast

For the filling
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/3 cup toasted and chopped pecans

Add the ingredients to your bread machine as recommended by manufacturer. Program for the bread cycle. When cycle is done, place dough on floured surface and let it rest for about 1o minutes.

Make the filling.

Roll dough into a rectangle, about 15x10-inches. Spread the filling all over the dough leaving a 1 inch border by the edges.

Start at the long side and roll tightly. Press the seams together and place seam side down.

Cut roll in half, then into 6 more slices.

Place in a greased 13x9 baking dish. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool in the pan.

You can also add a powdered sugar glaze, but I was feeling lazy and they really don't need it.

Mmm Coffee, Tea & Catalogs

Everyone that know me, knows that I am a huge fan of Dunkin Donuts. Well I have used their coffee at home and just isn't the same.

I think my favorite coffee to brew at home is New England Coffee Company. The non-flavored one I like the most is their New England Breakfast Blend. I recently picked up a bag of their Hazelnut Creme and it is really good!!!

I saw a couple other flavors in the store and I am very curious about the Blueberry Cobbler. I am just not sure if I would like it. Since it is Fall I will HAVE to pick up some Pumpkin Spice, Gingerbread Cookie, and maybe Eggnog.

I also love good tea. I found Stash Tea a few years ago and they sell some fantastic products! For Christmas a few years ago, Marcel bought me some Tea for One sets.

Some of my favorite teas from them are English Breakfast, Irish Breakfast. I also really enjoy their Christmas Eve & Christmas Morning tea and their Orange Spice tea is incredible.

Want to sweeten the tea, they have Honey Sticks. They are really neat and the amount in the stick is just right (for me anyway). They also sell some sweet treats to go along with all their great teas.

What goes great with coffee and tea...yummy treats!!!

I just received the King Arthur Flour Holiday Catalog and you can't help but drool at all the yummy things in there. I have a mental wish list a mile long from it!


Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin English Muffins

I am tweaking the Whole Wheat English Muffin recipe that I have used in the past.

1/4 cup warm water
1 package dry yeast (or 1 tablespoon)
2 cups whole wheat flour, plus more as needed
1 cup white flour, or use all whole wheat --muffins will be more dense
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk (I like to warm the milk a bit in the microwave for 30 seconds)
3 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon Saigon Cinnamon
1/2 cup of raisins
1 egg

cornmeal as needed

Place all the ingredients except the corn meal and raisins in your bread maker in order by your manufacturer.

Set your maker to dough setting and start. I add the raisins in when my machine beeps for additional ingredients.

When your breadmachine is done, pat or roll the dough out to about 1/2 inch thick and cut with a biscuit cutter. Reroll scraps as necessary.

Cover the muffins with a towel and let rise for 20-30 minutes.

Heat a griddle or large skillet over medium-low heat. Sprinkle with corn meal. Using a spatula, carefully transfer muffins to hot griddle. Cook about 5 minutes on each side, turn and cook for 2-3 minutes per side. Outsides should be golden brown and crusty, insides should be soft, but not gooey. Remove to cooling rack. Cook the rest in batches.


Clay Pot Turkey

This little turkey is quite simple to make. The cost is minimal and he makes a great table decoration or hostess gift for Thanksgiving dinner!

One 1-1/2" Diameter Wooden Ball
One 2-1/4" Diameter Clay Pot
3 or 4 Feathers
6" Ribbon
6" Raffia
Tacky Glue
Black Finetip Marker
Small and Large Paintbrushes
Acrylic Paints in Brown, Tan, Mustard Yellow, Red, and Rose
Clear Coat Spray

For Body Place newspaper down on work surface. Turn clay pot over and glue wooden ball to bottom of pot. When glue is dry, use large paint brush to paint entire the outside of the clay pot and the entire wooden ball with brown paint. Let dry and apply a second coat. When dry, use large paint brush to fleck on spots of tan paint for effect. This does not have to be perfect! Using small paint brush, paint on feet and beak, use the photo as a guide if needed.

For Head Use small paintbrush to paint on the gobbler in red. Dab large paintbrush or stencil dotter in rose paint. Dab onto newspaper or paper towel until all excess paint is removed. Gently dab onto "cheeks" of turkey's face. With the black finetip marker, drawn on eyes and dot nostrils onto beak. Spray entire surface with clear coat.

Finishing Touches Glue miniature bow tie in place, or fashion a simple bow out of ribbon and glue in place. Trim excess to suit your tastes. Tie a piece of jute or raffia through the holes of the green button. Tie a bow and trim excess. Glue button to the body below the bowtie. Glue feathers to the back so that they stick up above the back of the turkey's head.

Mine was still a little wet so I couldn't put his little bow tie on.


Blueberry Streusel Muffins

This morning I was in a mood to make some muffins, so I raided my cabinet and freezer. I went to one of my favorite sites; Taste of Home and found this recipe. They are very good and not overly sweet (that's what chocolate chip muffins are for) ;o)

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup cold butter
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla; mix well. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Fold in blueberries.
Fill 12 greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon; cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over muffins.

Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes or until browned. Cool for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack. Serve warm.

Yield: 1 dozen.


French Apple Pie

I had a single pie crust left over from last week and looked through my favorite old cookbook. It is Betty Crocker's New Cookbook. I found a recipe that called for a single crust, woo hoo!

One pie crust, can be homemade or premade
For the pie:
1/3 to 2/3 cups sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, fresh is best!
dash of salt
8 cup thinly sliced, peeled tart apples (I used granny smith)

For the crumb topping
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened (I melted it)

Mix the topping ingredients in a large bowl until crumbly.

Heat oven to 425.

Mix sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a large bowl. Stir in apples. Turn into a pastry lined pie plate.

Sprinkle topping mixture over the apple mixture and bake for 50 minutes. During the last 10 minutes of baking cover with foil to prevent the crumb topping from getting to browned or burnt. The top of mine had a few spots that got a little to done. But is smells great!!!

Tried and True Chili Mac

I had put a sticky note on this recipe in my Better Homes and Gardens Special issue, called Essential Slow Cooker.

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 15 ounce can chili beans in chili gravy
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes and green chilies undrained
1 cup beef broth
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces dried cavatappi or macaroni, cooked.
Shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

In a large skillet, cook ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until meat is brown and onion is tender. Drain off fat.

In a 3 1/2 to 4 quart slower cooker, combine meat mixture, chili beans, tomatoes and green chilies, broth, bell pepper, chili powder, cumin and salt.

Cover; cook on low for 4 to 6 hours or on high for 2 to 3 hours. Stir in cooked pasta. If desired, top with cheese.

Makes 6 servings.


Baked Butternut Squash

I also have a butternut squash that needs to be baked up for dinner and I think it will go nicely with the roasted chicken.

1 large butternut squash pared and cut into 1 inch cubes (remove seeds and fibers)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (fresh ground)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Place squash cubes in a 2 quart casserole or baking dish. Sprinkle with spices and brown sugar. Drizzle with melted butter and lemon juice. Bake uncovered in 375 degree oven for 45 minutes or until tender.

(or 350 for an hour or until soft)

Garlic & Lemon Roasted Chicken

1 whole chicken
1 large lemon thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, peeled & sliced
1 tablespoon dried fine herbs (combination of dried oregano, basil, rosemary and thyme)
salt and pepper
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Preheat oven to 450.
Season chicken with herbs, salt and pepper.
Place 1/2 of lemon slices and 2/3 of garlic in roasting pan.
Loosen chicken skin over breasts; push remaining lemon and garlic slices under the skin.
Place chicken over lemon and garlic in pan.

Roast for 15 - 20 minutes.
Then turn down to 350 and continue roasting until a meat thermometer registers 165.

Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.


Sparkling Cranberry Punch Non-Alcholic

2 quarts cranberry cocktail juice, chilled
1-6 oz can frozen pink lemonade concentrate, thawed
1 liter Club Soda, chilled

In a large punch bowl, combine cranberry cocktail and lemonade concentrate.
Stir in club soda.
Serve immediately.

Notes: if you want to get a head start, mix this up without the soda water and add that right before serving. Also, ice is not required if you have all of your ingredients chilled. If not, you can make cranberry juice ice cubes.

Serves 25

Nutty Caramel Apple Dip

I made this last night, it is great served with apples.

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup apple butter
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped salted peanuts
3 medium apples, sliced

In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese, apple butter, brown sugar and vanilla until combined. Stir in the peanuts. Serve with apple slices. Refrigerate leftovers.

Yield: 2 cups.


Meyer Lemon - Cranberry Bundt Cake

I first saw the recipe in the November issue of the Food Network Magazine and thought that it would make a great dessert for Thanksgiving. Well earlier today I was just playing on Facebook when I realized that I have a party to host tomorrow night and totally forgot to plan desserts! ACK!!!! I am usually so on the ball when it comes to stuff like that.

Anyway I pulled up the recipe online and really read through it and decided to go for it. So here is the recipe, I hope it comes out good!!!!

For the cake:

3 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature, plus more for the pan
3 cups cake flour, sifted, plus more for the pan
1 12-ounce bag fresh or frozen cranberries, thawed if frozen
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
6 tablespoons whole milk
4 large eggs plus 2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons finely grated Meyer lemon zest
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the Syrup and Glaze:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

Prepare the cake: Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350. Butter and flour a 10-cup fluted Bundt pan.

Cook the cranberries with 3/4 cup granulated sugar in a pot over medium-high heat until juicy and the mixture reduces to 1 1/4 cups, about 15 minutes. Let cool.
Whisk the milk, whole eggs and yolks, and vanilla in a medium bowl; set aside.
Whisk the 3 cups flour, the remaining 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar, the lemon zest, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add the 3 1/4 sticks butter and beat with a mixer on low speed until moistened. Add half of the milk mixture, increase the speed to medium and beat 1 minute. Add the remaining milk mixture in two batches, beating between each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat again, about 30 seconds.

Transfer two-thirds of the batter to the pan. Spoon the cranberry mixture in a ring around the middle of the batter (do not let it touch the pan). Top with the remaining batter and smooth evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the syrup: Dissolve the 1/4 cup granulated sugar in 1/2 cup lemon juice in a saucepan over low heat. Remove the cake from the oven, poke the surface all over with a skewer and pour the syrup on top. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully invert the cake onto a parchment-lined rack to cool completely. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and let sit overnight.
When ready to serve, whisk the confectioners' sugar and the remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice until smooth. Spoon over the cake.

Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash

To go along with the pork roast, I have an Acorn Squash that needs to be cooked soon. I normally just split it in half and add some salt and pepper, but I am on a new recipe kick. I found this in my very old Betty Crocker cookbook.

Split Acorn Squash in half, lengthwise.

Bake squash for 30 minutes on 350.

Mix 1 large tart red apple, diced, 2 tbs chopped nuts, 2 tbs packed brown sugar, and 1 tbs unsalted butter, melted.

Spoon apple mixture into each squash half. Bake about 30 minutes longer or until the squash is tender.

Pork Tenderloin with Pomegranate Glaze

Since the calendar says it is fall, I am making a new pork roast for dinner tonight. It sounds wonderful doesn't it?

1 small bottle of POM or 2 cups pomegranate juice
1/4 cup sugar
2 lbs pork loin roast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Combine juice and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, and bring to a boil. Cook until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 8 to 10 minutes. Pour half of glaze into a small bowl and set aside.

Preheat oven to 325.

Sprinkle pork roast with salt and pepper and place into a baking dish. Brush roast with the glaze. Roast at 325 for 30 minutes. Baste pork with the rest of the glaze and continue roasting until a meat thermometer registers 155 degrees.

Remove roast from the oven and baste with the reserved glaze. Cover loosely with foil and let rest for 10 minutes.


Straw Hat Turkey

This week's craft at work, was a mini straw hat turkey!

Use feathers, craft foam, and make a turkey out of a straw hat.
You need:
Straw Hat
Craft Foam
Tacky Glue

Cut out pieces of craft foam to resemble the turkey shown above. Glue on a loop of hemp for hanging.

Senator Russell's Sweet Potatoes

This is a repost from the Lucky Charms Cookbook, just for Stacey ;O)

From: seancarkiki

3c. smashed Sweet Potatoes, drained well
1c. Sugar
2 beaten eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2c. Butter (melted)

1 c. brown sugar
1/2c. Flour
1/3c. Melted butter
1c. chopped pecans


Mix all ingredients, except those for the topping together. Mix well. Pour into buttered 8"x12" baking dish. Add topping mixture atop of Sweet Potato Mixture. Bake uncovered @ 350 degrees for 30 minutes.



Deep Dish Turkey Pie

I am making this for dinner tonight, the recipe came from a Pillsbury e-newsletter.

2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped onion (1/2 medium)
1 can (10 3/4 oz) condensed cream of chicken soup
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 cups cubed cooked turkey or chicken
1 bag (1 lb) frozen broccoli, carrots and cauliflower, thawed, drained
1 Pillsbury® refrigerated pie crust (from 15-oz box), softened as directed on box


Heat oven to 400°F. In 3-quart saucepan or Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Add celery and onion; cook and stir until tender. Stir in soup, milk, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. Cook until thoroughly heated.

Gently stir in turkey and thawed vegetables. Pour into ungreased 2-quart casserole or 10-inch quiche pan.

Remove pie crust from pouch; place flat over turkey mixture. Roll up edge of crust to fit top of casserole; flute edge. Cut slits in several places in crust.

Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.



This morning I ran into Walmart for a few things. I saw that all the Halloween/Fall items were 50% off and I needed some leaf cookie cutters.

I bought two sets of the Wilton Autumn Cookie Cutters for $3.00 each! I also spotted an 18 piece metal Halloween cookie cutter set and that was only $4.50! I also picked up a 3 piece Havest set for $1.50!

I also picked up some Orange Sanding Sugar, they were $1.00 a piece and a couple bottles of Leaf sprinkles and Autumn Pumpkin Sprinkles.

I love getting a good deal on supplies!

Fall Leaves Sugar Cookies

A while ago I was searching for Fall recipes for my Thanksgiving Workshops. I came across this recipe on the Land O Lakes website. I thought it would be a fun and easy recipe for the kids to make. I will be making the dough some time Thursday during the day so that it is ready for Thursday night.

1 cup LAND O LAKES® Butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 LAND O LAKES® All-Natural Egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

Red, orange and yellow gel food colors

Coarse white, orange and/or yellow decorator sugars.

Combine butter and sugar in large bowl; beat at medium speed until creamy. Add egg, milk and almond extract; continue beating until well mixed.

Reduce speed to low; add flour and baking powder. Beat until well mixed.Divide dough into thirds; place each portion into separate small bowl. Add very small amount of red gel food color to 1 portion; mix well. Add additional red gel for desired color, if necessary. Repeat with remaining dough portions and gel food colors.

Shape each dough into ball; flatten each ball to 1/2-inch thickness. Wrap each in plastic food wrap; refrigerate until firm (2 to 3 hours).

Heat oven to 400°F. Working with half of each dough color (keeping remaining dough refrigerated), drop tablespoon-size pieces of dough from each color onto a lightly floured surface in a random pattern with dough pieces touching. Roll out dough to 1/4- to 1/8-inch thickness, forming a marbled design. Cut with 3-inch leaf-shaped cookie cutters.

Place cookies, 1 inch apart, onto ungreased cookie sheets. Sprinkle with decorator sugar. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet; remove to wire cooling rack


Best Loved Cookies & Bars, OH MY!

I picked up Taste of Home Best Loved Cookies & Bars last week at Sweetbay. I absolutely love their special issues. I now have lots and lots of ideas for my holiday baking and can't wait to try some new recipes.

If you are a baker also, you must pick it up!!


November Fun Food Holidays

11/1 National Deep Fried Clams Day
11/1 National Vinegar Day
11/2: National Deviled Egg Day
11/3 National Sandwich Day
11/ 4: National Candy Day
11/ 5: National Doughnut Day
11/ 6: National Nachos Day
11/ 7: Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day
11/ 8: National Cappuccino Day
11/ 8: National Harvey Wallbanger Day
11/ 9: National Scrapple Day
11/ 9: Cook Something Bold & Pungent Day
11/ 10: National Vanilla Cupcake Day
11/ 11: National Sundae Day
11/ 12: National Pizza With Everything Day (Except Anchovies)
11/ 13: National Indian Pudding Day
11/ 14: National Guacamole Day
11/ 14: National Pickle Day
11/ 15: National Raisin Bran Cereal Day
11/ 16: National Fast Food Day
11/ 17: National Baklava Day
11/ 17: Homemade Bread Day
11/18: National Vichyssoise Day
11/ 19: Carbonated Beverage with Caffeine Day
11/ 20: National Peanut Butter Fudge Day
11/ 20: Beaujolais Nouveau Day
11/ 21: Gingerbread Day
11/ 22: National Cashew Day
11/ 23: National Espresso Day
11/ 23: Eat a Cranberry Day
11/ 24: National Sardines Day
11/ 25: National Parfait Day
11/ 26: National Cake Day
11/ 27: National Bavarian Cream Pie Day
11/ 28: National French Toast Day
11/ 29: Chocolates Day
11/ 29: National Lemon Creme Pie Day
11/ 30: National Mousse Day

What days will you be celebrating this November, leave me a comment!


Spooky Halloween Trees (Part 2)

Ok so yesterday when I made the Spooky Halloween Tree cookies for my Tricks & Treats workshop, I was NOT happy with them. The cookies were very crumbly and I figured that if the kids went to frost them they would all fall apart and I didn't want that to happen. So I had a couple boxes of brownie mix. I used both boxes and baked them in a half sheet pan for about 30 minutes. I chilled them to make them easier to cut.

At work I cut them into 3x2 rectangles.

After all the kids got their brownies, frosting and decorations I decorated a couple for the parents waiting in the lobby.

I am so glad that I found chocolate twizzlers at Target. They tasted so much better than the black licorice.

I think they came out cute and the frosting was very good! Some of the decorations were from Wilton. Most of the kids picked the Hallow Pumpkin Mix. We also used the 6 mix assortment.

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

I know that the themometer says we are still in the high 80's, but my brain says it is fall. I just whipped up some Pumpkin Spice Muffins for breakfast and they smell incredibly yummy!

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fresh nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground clove
1/4 ginger
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup melted unsalted butter
1/3 cup buttermilk
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray a 12 cup muffin pan with cooking spray or you can use paper liners. I prefer the spray.

In a large bowl sift all of the dry ingredients and set aside.

In another large bowl, mix together the wet ingredients; sugars, pumpkin, melted butter, buttermilk and the eggs.

Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined, but do not over mix.

Spoon batter into muffin pan; an ice cream scoop works the best.

Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Turn the muffin out onto a cooling rack and let cool for a few minutes. Enjoy them plain, with butter or even a little sweetened cream cheese.


Asiago Sun-dried Tomato Bread

Makes One (1 1/2-pound) Loaf

1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) water
2 tablespoons (7/8 ounce) extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons Baker's Special Dry Milk or instant powdered milk
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups (13 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached Special Bread Flour
2 tablespoons (1/4 ounce) chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated Asiago cheese
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons instant yeast

Place all of the ingredients into the pan of your bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer.

Program the machine for the Basic setting, and press Start.

Check the dough's consistency about 7 minutes after the kneading cycle begins, adding additional water or flour to form a soft, smooth ball of dough.

Allow the machine to complete its cycle.

Cool the bread completely before serving.

I am making this to go along with some Minestrone Soup.

Spooky Halloween Trees

We are going to be decorating these cookies in my Tricks & Treats Worshop later today. I am baking them at home so they will have time to cool.

1 ½ cup AP Flour
¼ cup cocoa powder
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

2 cups powdered sugar
¼ cup unsalted butter softened
1 tsp vanilla
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
3 or 4 tbs half and half

Black licorice twists (I found chocolate Twizzlers at Target), Halloween sprinkles and or colored sugar

Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

Combine ½ cup butter and sugar in a large bowl; beat at medium speed until creamy. Add egg and vanilla; continue beating until well mixed. Reduce speed to low; add flour mixture. Beat until well mixed.

Divide dough in half. Shape each half into ball; flatten slightly. Wrap each in plastic food wrap; refrigerate until firm at least 2 hours or quick chill in the freezer.

Heat oven to 325. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface, one-half at a time, (keeping remaining dough refrigerated), to a 12x7 rectangle. Trim edges if necessary. Cut each rectangle in half lengthwise with a pizza cutter or sharp knife. Make 5 crosswise cuts in each half, 2 inches apart, creating 12 (3x2 inch) rectangles. Place rectangles 1 inch apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. (I like using parchment)

Bake for 6 to 8 minutes or just until set. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet; remove to wire cooling rack. Cool completely.

Combine all the frosting ingredients in a medium bowl, adding enough half and half for desired spreading consistency. Beat at low speed until well mixed.

Cut licorice twist into 3 inch lengths. Cut slits on 1 end of the licorice using a sharp knife or kitchen shears to within 1 inch of the other end to form tree with 3 or 4 branches. Carefully bend or peel apart branches.

Work with 2 or 3 cookies at a time so frosting doesn’t harden. Frost cookies; place licorice tree onto frosting. Sprinkle with Halloween sprinkles or colored sugars, if desired.


Lemon-Lime Chili Chicken

2 tbs chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 to 3 1/2 lbs meaty chicken pieces (breast halves, thighs and drumsticks skin removed)
1 med zucchini or yellow summer squash, halved lengthwise and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 med onion cut into wedges
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced

In a small bowl, combine chili powder, salt and pepper. Using your fingers, rub spice mixture into all sides of chicken. Place chicken in a slow cooker. Add zucchini and onion. In a small bowl, combine stock, lime juice and lemon juice and garlic; pour over all the chicken.

Cover; cook on low-heat settings for 5 to 6 hours or on high for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Transfer chicken and vegetables to a serving platter. Discard cooking liquid. Makes 6 to 8 servings.


Cauldron Cups

I totally forgot to share what we made at my Tricks & Treats workshops last week.

12 foil cupcake liners

24 chocolate sandwich cookies (2 3/4 cups), crushed into crumbs
1/2 cup LAND O LAKES® Butter, melted
1 cup milk
3/4 cup whipping cream
1 (3.3-ounce) package white chocolate instant pudding and pie filling mix
10 drops green food color
1/2 cup real semi-sweet mini chocolate chips*
12 pretzel sticks

Line muffin cups with foil cupcake liners. Combine cookie crumbs and melted butter in medium bowl; mix well. Spoon 2 heaping tablespoons into each cupcake liner. Press onto bottom and up sides of liner to form cauldron cups.

Combine milk, whipping cream, pudding mix, and food color in medium bowl. Beat at high speed 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips. Spoon filling into muffin cups. Refrigerate until set (at least 1 hour).

At serving time, place 1 pretzel stick into each cauldron for stirring spoon.

*Substitute creme de menth baking chips.
Recipe Tip; For easy cleanup, use a large plastic resealable food bag to mix the cookie crumbs and butter. Seal tightly; toss until mixed.

Bride of Frankenstein cake

I made this cute cake for Victoria's Halloween party.  It came out ok, I wasn't to happy with the hair, but I was running out of time.  I found the recipe in a couple different places, one was on the Wilton site and the other was on the Pillsbury site.  I used bits of each recipe, but the long loaf pan from Wilton would have made it a bit easier.

Dracula Cupcakes

Victoria helped pick out what kind of cupcakes for her Halloween Party.  I found these cute Dracula cupcakes on the Wilton site.  I couldn't follow the directions completely since I am missing a couple tips and was running out of time.


Cheesy Sausage Bites

I am also making these for our Adult Halloween Party tonight.  This makes 36 small bites.

8 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
3 cups Mozzarella Cheese
1 1/2 cups Cottage Cheese
3/4 pound of spicy pork sausage cooked, crumbled and drained

Preaheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl beat eggs, add flour, baking powder and salt.  Blend thoroughly.  Fold in remaining ingredients.  Pour into a greased 9x9 baking dish.  Bake at 350 for 40 minutes.  Remove from oven; let stand 10 minutes.  Cut into small squares; serve warm or at room temp.

Ghiradelli Sinful Chocolate Truffles

1/4 cup heavy cream
16 oz Ghiradelli Bittersweet Chocolate (I used 1 1/2 bags of 60% cacao chips)
6 tbs unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/3 cup Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa

In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate and butter. In a medium sized skillet, bring 1/2 inch of water to a slow simmer. Set the saucepan in the skillet over low heat. Stir mixture just until chocolate has completely melted. Remove from heat. Pour the chocolate mixture into a shallow bowl. Cool, cover and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.

(I found it much easier to melt the chocolate and butter over a double boiler, when completely melted add the cream.)

Pour the cocoa into a pie plate. Line an airtight container with waxed paper. Dip a melon baller or small spoon into a glass of warm water and quickly scrape across the surface of the chilled truffle mixture to form a rough 1-inch ball. Drop the ball into the cocoa. Repeat with the remaining truffle mixture. Gently shake the pie plate to coat truffles evenly. Transfer truffles to the prepared container, separating layers with additional waxed paper. Cover tightly and refrigerate up to 2 weeks, or freeze up to 3 months.

I am not rolling them in the cocoa powder, I am going to roll them in Wilton's Halloween Nonpareils.  These are going to be a little treat at our Adult Halloween Party later tonight.


Cheeseburger Biscuit Bake

Victoria picked this recipe out a Taste of Home Magazine.

1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
Dash pepper
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 tube (12 ounces) refrigerated buttermilk biscuits, separated into 10 biscuits

In a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the tomato sauce, ketchup and pepper. Spoon half into a greased 8-in. square baking dish; sprinkle with half of the cheese. Repeat layers.

Place biscuits around edges of dish. Bake, uncovered, at 400° for 18-22 minutes or until the meat mixture is bubbly and biscuits are golden brown. Yield: 5 servings.

Nutrition Facts: 1 serving (1 each) equals 492 calories, 23 g fat (14 g saturated fat), 92 mg cholesterol, 1,264 mg sodium, 40 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 32 g protein.


Baked Ziti

Here is what I am making for dinner.

1 lb ziti pasta, cooked al dente
1 lb Italian sausage, cooked and chopped
1 (15 ounce) container ricotta cheese
1 egg
2 tablespoons parsley
2 teaspoons italian seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded, divided
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 (28 ounce) jar pasta sauce, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.

Cook ziti according to package directions; drain; set aside.

Mix ricotta, egg, parsley, 1-1/2 cups of the mozarella cheese, and parmesan cheese and seasonings in a large bowl.

Mix cooked sausage and pasta in with ricotta mixture.

Mix in 3/4 jar of sauce.

Transfer mixture into a 2 quart casserole dish.

Top with the rest of the sauce and mozarella cheese.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.


Ham and Broccoli Quiche

This is what I am making for dinner tonight.

1/2 cup swiss cheese (shredded)
1 (9 inch) pie shells
1 1/2 cups chopped ham
1 cup cooked broccoli (chopped)
4 eggs
3/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons flour
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 dash nutmeg
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese (grated)

Preheat oven to 350
Sprinkle Swiss cheese in pie crust.
Top with ham and broccoli.
In a mixing bowl, beat together eggs, milk, flour, white pepper and nutmeg; pour into pie crust.
Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Bake 40-50 minutes or until a knife inserted near center comes out clean.
Let stand 10 minutes before serving.


Rose' Sangria

I have made this in the past, but not since I started my Foodie Blog. I found the recipe in my Bobby Flay's Boy Gets Grill cookbook. This book is awesome!!

I will be making this for our Adult Halloween Party next Saturday. The original recipe serves 4 to 6, but I will be doubling in a couple times over.

1 bottle (750 ml) dry rose' (750 ml is equal to 4 cups just in case you need to double it is easier to figure it out in cups)

1 cup orange juice, preferably fresh
1/2 cup brandy
1/2 cup triple sec
1/4 cup simple syrup or more to taste
3 cups sliced oranges, lemons, limes, apples, blackberries or blueberries
Ice optional

Combine the wine, orange juice, brandy, triple sec, and simple syrup in a large pitcher. Taste for sweetness, adding more simple syrup if needed. Add half of the fruit and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.

When ready to serve, strain out the fruit that's been sitting in the pitcher and discard. Stir in the remaining fruit and serve the sangria straight up or over ice. I prefer it over ice.


Quick Ghost Cookies

We made these this evening in my Tricks & Treats Workshop.

1 pound white candy coating, coarsely chopped
1 package (1 pound) Nutter Butter peanut butter cookies
Mini chocolate chips

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt candy coating, stirring occasionally. Dip cookies into coating, covering completely. Place on waxed paper.
Brush ends with a pastry brush dipped in coating where fingers touched cookies. While coating is still warm, place two chips on each cookie for eyes. Let stand until set. Store in an airtight container.

Yield: about 3 dozen.

My notes: we only dipped one side to keep the mess to a minimum.

Magic Potion Jars

Magic Potion Jars These magic potion jars are an easy craft project that everyone can enjoy. It is a fun Halloween craft or perfect for celebrating a wizard theme. Materials Needed:Jars with Lids – any sizes and shapes Scrap Fabric or Felt Twine Halloween Scrapbook Paper and stickers
Avery Label (3x4 inch)

Instructions: Wrap your jar with a strip of scrapbook paper. On the label write your magic ingredients; witches warts, eye of newt, dragon's breath etc... Decorate the paper with the stickers.

Cut a piece of fabric or felt about 1-inch larger around than the lid. Place the fabric on the lid, holding it down around the edges, and tie it in place with a piece of twine.

These jars can be left empty and used for decorating purposes or they can be filled with candy or other treats and given as gifts.



I have been spying this recipe on Recipezaar for months. I am attempting to make it this morning. I am not a good bread maker, so this looks good because the kneading is done in the bread machine.

7/8 cup water (searched online and 7/8th of a cup is 7 fluid ounces)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup honey
2 eggs
1/4 cup butter, melted
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
milk, for brushing on the top (optional)
sesame seed (optional)

Place ingredients into the bread machine in that order or in the order specified by your bread machine.

Set the machine to DOUGH cycle, and start.

Remove dough from machine after FIRST rise.

Divide dough into three equal pieces.

Braid the dough, starting from the middle and tucking the ends under.

Place in a 9x5 inch greased loaf pan.

Brush it with some milk, and add some sesame seeds. (OPTIONAL).

Allow to rise till doubled in size (about an hour).

Bake at 350F for 35-45 minutes.

Bread is done when crust is golden brown, and hollow.


Jack O Lantern Jars

We made these Jack O Lantern jars at work. They are a really cute candy holder.

You'll Need:
canning jars or baby food jars
green acrylic paint
black craft foam sheets or black acrylic paint
craft glue or hot glue gun
green ribbon or raffia
orange candy.

How to Make It:Cover your work surface. Remove the lid from the jar and paint it with the green paint. Cut the face pieces from craft foam and attach them to the jar with craft glue. To make it even easier, we used sticky backed craft foam sheets to make the jack-o-lantern face. No glue needed!You can also paint the face on the jar.

Fill the jar with the orange candies all the way up to the top. Secure the dry painted lid on the top and tie the ribbon around the edges for an extra decorative touch.

For the faces I printed off about a dozen pumpkin carving patterns and the kids drew the faces on the black foam.

Heartwarming Chili

Here is what I am making for dinner. I found the recipe in my Taste of Home Heartwarming Soup magazine.

1 pound ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
2 cans (16 ounces each) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) diced tomatoes
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1 medium green pepper
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon baking cocoa
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, optional
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, cook beef and onion over medium heat until the meat is no longer pink; drain. Add the remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Yield: 4 servings.

Nutrition Facts: 1 serving (1 each) equals 362 calories, 12 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 56 mg cholesterol, 712 mg sodium, 35 g carbohydrate, 11 g fiber, 31 g protein.

My notes: I used about 2 pound of ground beef. I also added another tablespoon of chili powder a dash of cayenne pepper and doubled the cumin and oregano.

I also cooked it on the stove top to the point of simmering for 3 hours. Instead I put it in my crock pot on low for 4 hours.


Chicken Chili

I found this recipe in my Taste of Home magazine and just put it in the crock pot. I am not sure if we are eating it tonight or saved for tomorrow.

1-1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup chopped onion
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 can (15 ounces) cannellini or white kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes with mild green chilies, undrained
1 cup frozen corn
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon pepper

In a large skillet, saute chicken and onion in oil for 5 minutes or until chicken is browned.

Transfer to a 5-qt. slow cooker. Stir in the beans, tomatoes, corn and seasonings.
Cover and cook on low for 5 hours or until chicken is no longer pink. Garnish with sour cream and cheese if desired. Yield: 6 servings.

Nutritional Analysis: 1 cup equals 318 calories, 10 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 63 mg cholesterol, 1,092 mg sodium, 28 g carbohydrate, 6 g fiber, 28 g protein.


Basil Bread

I just put this in my bread machine.

1 1/3 cups water
2 tbs olive oil
1 1/3 tbs sugar
2/3 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp dried basil
3 cups bread flour
2 tsp bread machine yeast

Put the ingredients into your bread machine and use the basic setting, medium crust.

Pasta Sausage Soup

Here is another tasty looking recipe from my Taste of Home magazine and will be dinner tonight.

1-1/2 pounds hot or sweet Italian sausage links
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green pepper, cut into strips
1 garlic clove, minced
1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
6 cups water
2 to 2-1/2 cups uncooked bow tie pasta
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried thyme

Remove casings from sausage; cut into 1-in. pieces. In a Dutch oven, brown sausage over medium heat. Remove sausage with a slotted spoon; drain, reserving 2 tablespoons drippings.

Saute the onion, green pepper and garlic in drippings until tender.
Return sausages to the pan; stir in the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes or until pasta is tender, stirring occasionally.

Yield: 3 quarts

My notes/substitutions: Instead of water and bouillon granules I will be using chicken stock. Victoria chose to have it with small shells instead of bow ties. I think she is on a shell kick. Who am I to argue?


Hearty Turkey Vegetable Soup

I love Taste of Home special magazines. My current favorite is the Heartwarming Soups issue. One of the reasons that I love it is that there are pictures of every recipe. Yesterday I had a few recipes marked and I showed them to Victoria. She picked out the recipe for today. Normally she likes to read the ingredients first, but yesterday she saw the picture and said "That one!".

1 pound lean ground turkey
1 medium onion, chopped
2 small zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced
1 large carrot, cut into 1-inch julienne strips
3 cans (14 ounces each) reduced-sodium beef broth
1 jar (26 ounces) garden-style pasta sauce or meatless spaghetti sauce
1 can (16 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15-1/2 ounces) great northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) Italian diced tomatoes, undrained
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1 cup uncooked small shell pasta

In a Dutch oven coated with cooking spray, cook turkey and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Add zucchini and carrot; cook and stir 1 minute longer. Stir in the broth, pasta sauce, beans, tomatoes, parsley, oregano, pepper and hot pepper sauce.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Just before serving, stir in pasta.

Yield: 10 servings (3-3/4 quarts).

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