Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays!!!

I want to take a moment to wish you all a very Happy Holiday!Whatever you are celebrating and whomever you are celebrating with,enjoy this time of year to the fullest!Before you know it,we'll be talking about Valentine's Day ideas!!!I'm off to my boys' classrooms bearing trays of goodies!I'll be back after Christmas!I wish you all a very "sweet" holiday!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Red Velvet Cookies

Here is a great recipe from Southern Living....not only do they look great,they taste great!Your guests will rave about them!The icing is one to remember. These cookies are a bit large,so feel free to make them smaller if desired.

2-3/4 c. flour
1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. butter,softened
1-1/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 Tbsp. red food coloring
1 tbsp. vanilla
3/4 c. buttermilk
   In the bowl of your mixer,blend together the butter & sugar.Add the eggs,beating well,followed by the food coloring & vanilla.
   Add the flour mixture and the buttermilk,alternating between the two,beginning & ending with the flour.Drop by 1/4 cupfuls about 3 inches apart on a parchment lined baking sheet.Spread dough to make 3" rounds.Bake at 350 degrees until tops are set,about 15 minutes.Cool completely.Frost with cream cheese frosting,and crumble one cookie to sprinkle on the tops.These can be stored in the refrigerator up to 5 days.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 8oz. package of cream cheese,softened
1/2 c. butter,softened
1/2 tsp. vanilla
dash of salt
1-1lb. box of powdered sugar
   Mix all ingredients together in the bowl of your mixer until creamy.Spread on tops of Red Velvet Cookies.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

An Edible Christmas Village

THIS IS NOT MY CREATION, but I wish it were!!!This beautiful array of hand decorated cookies was created by Anne from Flourbox Bakery,and I love it!How can you not possibly be inspired by this?It put a smile on my face immediately,and I just had to share.Imagine creating something like this,and having just had a baby? amaze me!Take a look at this village and so much more when you visit her site.You will be so glad you did!

Friday, December 16, 2011


Yesterday ,I had the perfect day.My dearest friend & I ventured into NYC to see the Martha Stewart Show.It must have been our lucky day...we received many generous giveaways,a Honey Baked Ham,Martha Stewart cleaning products,her new parchment- lined foil,and a gift certificate to the Sundance Catalog!Even the FDNY stopped in to give out their latest calendar.It was a great show,and I cannot wait to go back again!
   After Martha,we decided to head over to Eataly.For those of you who are not familiar with this,it is the shopping/restaurant brainchild of Mario Batali,Joe & Lidia Bastianich.It is truly an amazing place.Plenty of restaurants to dine in,and more food items available than one can imagine.I was truly in my element.Let's just say this,I liked this place so much,that if given the opportunity,I would move in!!
   As luck would have it,Mario was there for a book signing.Not only did we have a chance to meet him(he's very nice,by the way), I also won a 6 qt. Mario Batali dutch oven!Some people might not think much of that ,but for foodies,it is pure excitement!We had a delicious lunch there,and enjoyed browsing the endless aisles of bread,meats,pastas,oils,vegetables,etc. If you ever visit NYC,take some time to stop in  this place.You will be amazed at all it has to offer!(excuse my hairdo..the whipping city wind is no friend to this girl who is in need of a haircut)!

  So ,basically,yesterday was an "early" Christmas for me!Lots of fun,but now time to settle back down and get back to baking!As I write this,I am also baking tons of cookies for a fundraiser at my son's wrestling tournament tomorrow!Stay tuned,I'll have more cute,delicious ideas for you this week!I hope your holiday plans are going well!I've added some pictures from my adventures yesterday,I hope you enjoy them!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Gingerbread Tic-Tac-Toe

Here is a fun idea for your children(and you too)!Make an edible tic-tac-toe board!I wish I could take credit for the actual idea,but I spotted this one in a Paula Deen magazine a few years back,and we had a lot of fun making it. You can use gingerbread dough or sugar cookie dough.I made all of my dough,but you can use store-bought in a pinch....this is not so much about the baking as it is spending quality time with the little ones.Simply roll out the dough,cut out a nice size square(I did not measure,and mine is far from straight,that's okay). I used a little icing to adhere the m&m's to the board.I used mini cookie cutters to cut out the pieces and decorated them all.The kids will love making,playing with and eating this fun holiday project!Enjoy!!!

*** If your childen want to give this to a friend as a gift.just place the pieces in a small plastic bag and tie with ribbon.Present the board and pieces in a festive box or basket.The recipient will love it!

Gingerbread Cookies

Since I am going to see the Martha Stewart show on Thursday,and it is cookie week,why not make some of Martha's gingerbread cookies?For an easy ornament idea,just poke a straw through each cookie near the top,and bake as directed.After you have decorated them,slip some festive ribbon through the hole and hang the cookies on your tree!Notice in the picture above,the reindeer is made from an upside down gingerbread cookie cutter!

3-1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tbsp. ginger
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 stick of butter,softened
1 egg
2/3 c. unsulfured molasses

  In the bowl of your mixer,cream together the butter and brown sugar.Add the egg and molasses.Add the baking soda,cinnamon,ginger,cloves and salt.Add the flour and blend until combined.Divide the dough in half,and form two disks.Refrigerate at least one hour.
   Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface(flour your rolling pin as well),about 1/8 inch thick.Use cookie cutters to cut out your favorite shapes.Place on a parchment lined baking sheet,and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 10-12 minutes.Remove from the oven and let cool on cooling racks.Decorate as desired!

****For my frosting,I use confectioners' sugar ,water and food coloring.I truly do not measure.I place approximately one box of the sugar(1lb.) into a bowl,and add very small amounts of water until it reaches a spreading consistency.It should not be too thick.If it seems too runny,just add more sugar.I then add a few drops of the desired color.I find that if I make a big batch of the white,I can divide it into smaller bowls and add different colorings to it.Have fun!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Cookie Swap!

How cute are all of these printables from Amy Miller Designs?I love it!If you are thinking of having a cookie swap,or a cookie decorating party for your kids or yourself,this festive kit would add all of the special details to make your party unforgettable!Visit Amy Miller Designs on facebook ,or at

Eggnog Kringla

Here is a delicious cake-like cookie with Scandanavian roots.It is perfect for the holiday season,and goes beautifully with a cup of tea.This is one of my favorites!These freeze well,just make sure not to dust them with powdered sugar & nutmeg until you remove them from the freezer and let them thaw!

4c. flour
1 tsp.baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. nutmeg(I use the real thing )
3/4 c. butter,softened
1-1/2 c. sugar
1 egg
1 c. eggnog
confectioners' sugar
extra nutmeg for dusting
    In the bowl of your mixer,cream together the butter and the sugar.Add the egg,baking powder,baking soda,and nutmeg.Add the flour & eggnog,alternating between the two,starting & ending with the flour.
Chill the dough for at least one hour.

   Remove dough from the refrigerator.Roll about 1 tablespoon(or a little more) into balls.Form each ball into a long rope by rolling along the surface with your hand,using flour on your hands and the surface to prevent sticking..Form each rope into a knot as shown.Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 6-8 minutes,or until firm.Dust with powdered sugar and nutmeg.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Candy Cane/Wreath Cookies

Looking for a fun activity to do with the kids?Here it is.My son Sean made his own today,and added bows to his wreaths..why didn't I think of that?This recipe comes from a Food Network show I watched a few years back.It has fast become a favorite in our house.The original recipe was for candy cane cookies,but I thought,why not wreaths too?If you have trouble shaping the candy canes,just make sticks instead.They taste great and make a beautiful addition to your holiday cookie plate.These freeze beautifully,but if you freeze them,drizzle the chocolate on after they have thawed.Be careful when storing,as they are fragile!Also,one note of caution,be careful when measuring your almond extract..too much can ruin the recipe.It is very strong,so only use what is required in the recipe.

1 c. softened butter
1 c. confectioners' sugar
1 egg
2 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
2-1/2 c. flour
red food coloring
24 peppermint candies(I use 12 candy canes)
1/4. c. sugar
melted chocolate(I use either candy melts or chocolate chips)
   In the bowl of your blender,mix together the butter and sugar(2-3 minutes).Add the egg,almond extract,salt,and vanilla.Add the flour.Remove half of the dough and add the food coloring to it.Using one tsp. of each color(red & white) roll dough into 4 inch ropes as shown.Twist together and form into the shape of a candy cane. Bake at 350 degrees for about 9 minutes.Take care not to burn.Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the mixture of candy & sugar.Drizzle with the melted chocolate.

 Here is my son Sean & his creations.Not bad for a young baker!
*For the wreaths,just use green food coloring instead of the red,shape into circles and continue as above.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Just Had To Share....

How cute are these?If you enjoy making cake pops,you will love these molds!They come in a variety pack,and are a great way to shape your creations!They can be found at .Check out their site for fun ideas too!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Gingered Carrots

Here is a recipe from Southern Living that is simple,and has a delicate flavor.Not only does it make a great Thanksgiving side dish,it goes wonderfully with filet mignon for Christmas.

2 lbs. carrots,sliced
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 c. orange juice( I prefer fresh,but in a pinch go with the carton)
2 tbsp. butter
chopped parsley(optional)

  Cook carrots in boiling water for 10 minutes,or until tender.
  Combine sugar and the next 3 ingredients in a small saucepan, and gradually stir in the orange juice.Bring to a boil,stirring constantly,about one minute.Remove mixture from the heat,and stir in the butter.Pour the mixture over the cooked carrots,tossing to coat.Garnish with parsley if desired.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Coconut Custard Pie

This recipe is an easy one,and will be gobbled up in no time!If you are low on time or energy,pick up a ready made pie crust at your grocery store...the rest is easy.

4 eggs
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt
2-1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. toasted coconut
1 ready-made(or homemade) pie crust
* Nutmeg for sprinkling on top

   In a bowl,mix together all of the filling ingredients,except the nutmeg..Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.Line your pie dough(already in the pie plate) with foil and some beans or pie weights on top.Bake for 5 minutes.
   Remove the foil & the beans.Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.Carefully pour the coconut filling inside the pie shell,sprinkle with nutmeg and bake for 25 minutes,covering the edges of the crust with either a pie shield,or foil.After 25 minutes,remove the shield or foil,and bake for an additional 15 minutes,until a knife inserted in the center of the pie comes out clean.Let cool.Once completely cooled,store in the refrigerator.Garnish with a dollop of fresh whipped cream and a sprinkling of toasted coconut.

*** To toast coconut,simply sprinkle on a baking sheet in an even layer,and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes..keeping a close eye on it!You don't want it to burn!
***I have added decorative leaves to the outer crust.I simply rolled out pie dough,cut the shapes with a mini cookie cutter,and placed them around the edges.During the last 5 minutes of baking,I brushed the leaves with an egg wash(1 egg and a tsp of cream),to get a nice color.

Some Thanksgiving Recipe Suggestions

I have been writing this blog since January 2011 ,and we have covered quite a few recipes.Although they haven't been featured this month,perhaps you may want to make some of them for your Thanksgiving dinner.To find the recipes,just type in the name in the "search" box on the right side of this page,and you will find it.

Chocolate Chip Pie
Pecan Nut Cups
Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies
Cinnamon Mocha Tart
Apple Crisp
Mini Apple Crumb Tarts
Flourless Chocolate Cake
Mini Chocolate Cheesecakes
Brownie Pie
Carrot Squares
Maple Glazed Pumpkin Spice Cake
Pumpkin Bread
Maple Pumpkin Custards
Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
Chocolate Cream Hearts
Coconut Custard Pie
Butternut Squash Soup
Gingered Carrots
Garlic Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes
Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes
Apple Crumb Pie
Pumpkin Squares
  I hope this helps a bit.Whatever you make,I hope you have a "sweet" Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Butternut Squash Soup

Here is a great starter for your Thanksgiving meal.It can be made a few days ahead,and reheated right before serving.It is filled with wonderful fall flavors,and is sure to compliment your dinner.

1 butternut squash(about 3 lbs)
1 large onion
3 tbsp. butter
1 apple,peeled & chopped(I use Granny Smith)
1 medium potato,peeled & chopped(I use red bliss)
2 large garlic cloves,minced
6 c. chicken broth
1-1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
salt & pepper to taste

   Cut the squash in half,remove the seeds and place on a baking sheet.Sprinkle with a little salt & pepper,and bake at 350 degrees ,cut side up,covered with parchment or foil,for about 1 hour.Pierce with a fork to check for doneness.Remove from the oven and let cool.Remove the flesh into a bowl and set aside.

   In a stockpot,melt the butter and add the onions.Saute for about 5 minutes.Add the apple,potato,garlic, and pumpkin pie spice.Cook for a minute ,then add the squash and broth.Bring to a boil,then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes,until the potato & apple are tender.Carefully puree a third at a time in a blender.Return to the pot and warm through.Garnish with sour cream and sage if desired.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Garlic Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes

So who doesn't want to dive head first into a bowl of mashed potatoes?It is the ultimate comfort food.This recipe is simple and delicious.If sour cream is not your thing,check out our recipe for Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes!Either choice will be a winner!

4-5 lbs. of potatoes,peeled and chopped
1 stick of butter
1/4 c. milk or cream
1 c.sour cream(more if you like)
salt & pepper to taste
    Place the potatoes in a stockpot.Fill with enough cold water to cover the potatoes.Bring to a boil,lower the temperature slightly, and cook for  25 minutes,or until the potatoes are tender.
   Drain the potatoes and return to the same pot.Add the remaining ingredients.Using a potato masher,mash the mixture until thick and smooth.If it is too thick,feel free to add a bit more milk or sour cream,just add a bit at a time so that the potatoes do not lose their texture and become to "milky." Garnish with chives if desired.

*** I prefer to use a potato masher.You may also use a ricer.I find that using a hand held mixer or a food processor results in pasty,gummy potatoes.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Turkey & Pie Cookies

Ready for my son's  second grade Thanksgiving Feast!!Gobble,gobble!

Cranberry Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

This recipe comes from Paula Deen,and I love it!These cookies are full of flavor and truly delicious.Try some warm,with a glass of milk,and you will be very pleased!They make a great addition to your holiday dessert table.

1/2 c. butter softened
1 egg
1/2 c. sugar
2/3 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. quick cooking oats
1- 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 c. dried cranberries
1/2 c. sweetened flaked coconut
1/2 c. walnuts or pecans,chopped

   In the bowl of your mixer,cream together the butter and sugars.Add the egg and vanilla.Add the baking powder,oats,cranberries,coconut,walnuts and flour.Mix just until combined.
   Roll dough into about 1 inch balls.Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment about 2 inches apart.Bake at 350 degrees for about 12-14 minutes.Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.Keep fresh by storing in an airtight container.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Classic Apple Pie

Apple pie, a  must for every Thanksgiving dinner. Delicious warm,or at room temperature,this pie is easy to assemble and will be loved by all!Serve warm with a little vanilla ice-cream,and you have an all-American classic dessert.I like to use a combination of gala and golden delicious apples.

Pie dough for a double crust pie(homemade or store bought)
3 lbs. of apples,peeled and sliced
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg(I use freshly grated)
1/4 c. sugar
pinch of salt
1 egg
1 tbsp. cream
1 tbsp. cold butter ,cut into cubes
sugar for sprinkling on the top crust
   In a large bowl, mix together the apples and all of the remaining ingredients,except the butter,egg and cream.Pour the apple mixture into a pie plate lined with one pie crust.Scatter the pieces of butter on top of the apple mixture.Carefully place the second crust on top of the apple mixture.Pinch both crusts together,and cut away any crust hanging off the sides of your pie plate.Pinch the dough,using your left thumb to gently push the dough between  your thumb & index finger of your right hand(or any way that you prefer).Make 3 or 4 slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape.

 Mix together the egg & cream.Brush the mixture on top of the pie crust and sprinkle with sugar.Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes,until crust is brown and pie is bubbling.Use foil on top of the pie if the crust is browning too quickly.Let cool slightly,and serve.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Pumpkin Pie

This recipe was given to me by a friend years ago.My family loves it!It is creamy,delicious and easy to make.Again,I make my own pie crust,but you can use a premade pie dough from your local market.Hopefully, it will become a tradition in your home!Although this recipe does not require baking the pie crust first,I like to line the crust with foil or parchment,then with beans,or pie weights if you have them,and bake it for about 10 minutes.Then,I add the filling and bake as directed.I find that it ensures that the crust bakes thoroughly,and is not soggy.If your crust seems to be getting too dark while baking,use a pie shield,or gently place a piece of foil across the pie,being careful not to let the foil touch the filling.

1 prepared(or homemade) pie shell,with high edges
6 tbsp. light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 c. dark corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
1-1/2 c. fresh cream
3 eggs
2 tbsp.sugar
1-1/2 c. cooked pumpkin
1 tsp. cinnamon
     In the bowl of your mixer ,beat together all of the ingredients(except the pie shell,of course)! Blend until creamy.Pour into the prepared pie shell and bake at 425 degrees for one hour.Remove from oven,cool and refrigerate.Garnish with fresh whipped cream and a touch of cinnamon if desired.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cranberry Coffee Cake

This is a recipe I found a few years ago from Southern Living,and it is absolutely delicious.This recipe can be used to make 4 mini loaves,or 2 larger loaves.Filled with cranberries and nuts,it is a perfect breakfast choice when entertaining for Thanksgiving,or as a hostess gift when you are visiting family and friends.

1/2 c. butter,softened
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
8 0z. sour cream
1 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1-16oz. can of whole berry cranberry sauce
1 c. chooped walnuts or pecans

Almond Cream Glaze:
3/4 c. powdered sugar
2 c. cream
1/2 tsp. almond extract
   Stir all ingredients together and drizzle over cakes.

     In the bowl of your mixer,blend together the butter and sugar.Add the eggs.Mix well.Add the flour and sour cream,alternating between the two,beginning & ending with the flour.Stir in the extracts.
  This batter is enough to make 2 large loaves or 4 mini loaves. For the mini loaves,spoon 1/2 c. of batter into your prepared loaf pans.Spoon 3 tbsp. of cranberry sauce over the batter,and spread carefully to the edges.Sprinkle with about 2 tbsp. of nuts.Repeat layers,using batter,cranberries and nuts.If you are using only 2 larger loaf pans,spread about 1 cup of batter in the bottom ,then about 4-5 tbsp. of cranberries(or ,as much as you like),then about 3-4 tbsp. of nuts.Repeat with another layer of  batter,cranberries and nuts.
  Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 50 minutes(slightly longer if making larger loaves),or until a cake tester inserted in the middle of the cakes comes out clean.Let cool,then drizzle with Almond Cream Glaze.