Thursday, December 31, 2009

Super Easy Party Snack

This is an easy snack to take to a party or to serve to drop in guests. It comes together so easily but it's pretty and everyone will love it.

The basic version only has 2 ingredients: 1 package of vanilla flavored almond bark and regular, unflavored popcorn (if you use microwave popcorn about 2 bags should do it).

Melt the almond bark on medium-low heat, stirring constantly until smooth and creamy. Poor over popped popcorn and stir until all the popcorn is coated. Spread popcorn on waxed paper or aluminum foil and let set. Break into smaller pieces and store in airtight container.

There are so many variations on this. You can add M&Ms, sprinkles, nuts or you can do the same thing with pretzel sticks, peanuts and Chex Mix cereal in place of the popcorn(we call it white trash when we make it that way). There's no wrong way to make it, unless you wanted to add bacon or something which would just be weird. :)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Fruit Swirl Coffee Cake

I love to make this recipe for an easy weekend breakfast. It comes from this cookbook that Mike bought for me about 9 or 10 years ago. It's spiral bound so it will lay flat on the counter which is really nice.

The year that he gave it to me for Christmas we had ice and snow for the whole 2 week Christmas break and I made many of the recipes in it since I happened to have a big box of Bisquick on hand and we couldn't go anywhere. The boys got scooters for Christmas that year too and couldn't try them out until after they had to go back to school. I seem to remember that we even completed an entire game of Monopoly while we were "iced in". :) Maybe it's just us, but our Monopoly games tend to drag on for hours and hours and hours...

4 c. Bisquick baking mix (you could also use homemade biscuit mix)
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. butter, melted
1/2 c. milk
2 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs
1 (21 oz.) can pie filling (I used apple, but you can use cherry, blueberry, apricot...whatever you like)
Glaze (see below)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease jelly roll pan 15 1/2x10 1/2x1, or 2 square 9x9x2 pans. Mix all ingredients except pie filling and glaze. Beat vigorously for 30 seconds. Spread 2/3 of the batter (about 2 1/2 cups) in jelly roll pan or 1/3 of the batter (about 1 1/4 cups) in each square pan. Spread pie filling over batter (filling may not cover batter completely). Drop remaining batter by tablespoons onto pie filling. Bake until light brown, about 20 to 25 minutes. Drizzle with glaze while warm.

Beat 1 cup powdered sugar and 1 to 2 tbsp. milk until smooth and of desired consistency.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Spritz Cookie Recipe

I don't know why I didn't think to post this recipe when I mentioned making these cookies earlier in the week. :)

Classic Spritz Cookies
1 1/2 cups butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 Tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Thoroughly cream butter and sugar. Add egg, milk, vanilla and almond extract; beat well. Stir together flour and baking powder; gradually add to creamed mixture, mixing to make a smooth dough. Do not chill. Place dough into cookie press and press cookies onto a cooled, ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned around edges. Cool on rack.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Gift Idea

This is a sweet little gift that I got from a friend. It has a cute bag of tea called "Friendship Tea" inside the mug and I love the poem on the tag. If you get a good deal on the mugs this would be a very economical gift for friends, teachers, or co-workers.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Spritz Cookies

I've been making Christmas spritz cookies today. My mom made them all the time when I was little and I thought it would be fun to make some. What sort of Christmas cookies do you like to make?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Reheating Cinnamon Rolls

I reheated some of last week's cinnamon rolls for breakfast this morning and they were so good! Maybe not quite as good as they were the day I made them, but certainly much more convenient! :)

I put them in the fridge last night to thaw and then heated them in the oven at 250 degrees this morning. I did have to warm them a little longer than the 15 minute the cookbook suggested. It was more like 20 to 25.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Organization Challenge - Christmas

White Christmas
White Christmas

I thought we would take a break from our usual Monday organizing challenge to work on organizing Christmas. It's only 18 days away!

Hopefully you already got your December schedule worked out during Week 2 and your house clean during Week 3 so all we need is a little fine tuning.

This week's goals:
1. First and foremost enjoy your family and the hope and anticipation of celebrating the birth of Christ. Don't let the details get in the way.

2. If you haven't already, get those Christmas cards addressed and mailed. If it just doesn't happen this year, that's OK too. You can always send out a New Year's family newsletter or even Valentine's Day cards. :)

3. Finish your Christmas shopping. Browse online before you go and make a list of what you want to buy for whom so you don't wander aimlessly around the store (unless of course, that's what you enjoy doing like I do when I'm shopping with friends). :) One great gift idea for grandparents is a photo book. I recently received this one that I ordered from Photoworks and it is gorgeous! They currently have the books on sale for 25% off but I think you'll have to order ASAP to get one in time for Christmas. Snapfish and Kodak Gallery also have really nice photo books.

4. Gather all your wrapping paper, tape, ribbon and gift bags into one place so you can get to them easily. It's a good idea to wrap things as you buy them, but I usually end up wrapping everything in one marathon session.

5. If you've been buying gifts all year long and have them hidden all over the place, gather them together to see what exactly you have and what you still need to get. I have a few little things that have been hiding out in my gift/linen/extra toilet paper closet for years because I keep forgetting about them.

6. Plan your meals. Here is a nice Christmas menu planning checklist (can you tell I love checklists?)

Let's have a great week and remember what it's all about!
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
Luke 2:11

Saturday, December 5, 2009

New Recipes

I'm having fun this weekend trying new recipes. Hope you are all having a good weekend too!

Cinnamon roll recipe here. This is a big recipe so I took some to my neighbor and I have several pans in the freezer. It will be so easy to pop a pan in the oven for a special weekday breakfast without the work. I froze them already baked and iced and they can be reheated in the oven at 250 for 15 to 20 minutes.

Enchilada recipe here. My family loved these! It takes awhile to get them assembled, but it's not hard and it's worth it!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Muffins and rumors of muffins

There have been whispers and rumors floating around town about wonderful pumpkin muffins made only with two ingredients: pumpkin pie filling and spice cake mix. I've never had these muffins or seen the actual recipe, but being the risk-taker that I am (OK, go ahead and laugh, I know you want to) I decided to try and make these muffins with no recipe in sight.

The only problem.. my store was totally out of spice cake mix and the only pumpkin pie filling available was in the big can instead of the regular size. I hear there is some sort of pumpkin shortage. Do you have regular size cans at your store? Anyhoo, in the spirit of the brave kitchen pioneers who have gone before me, I decided to try and double it (because of the double amount of pumpkin) and substitute gingerbread mix for the spice cake mix.

I have to admit I was a little worried while I was stirring the two ingredients together. I kept thinking that surely I needed to add eggs or milk or something! It was a pretty thick mixture and I poured it into 2 muffins pans (to make 24 muffins).

I decided 350 degrees sounded like a god temperature and baked them for about 25 minutes. They were sure smelling good in the oven!

They turned out darker than regular pumpkin muffins (because of the gingerbread mix) but they actually looked edible when I pulled them out. I let the kids be the first guinea pigs and try them out. Nobody passed out or gagged so I figured they couldn't be too bad. :) I thought they turned out pretty good, but not as good as the muffins I make from this recipe. I think it was the heavy clove and ginger taste from the combination that was a little too much for me. I'm not a big clove fan; I don't even like Chai tea.

Overall I think I will try them again, but next time I'm hoping I'll be able to find the spice cake mix.

Have you ever made something similar? How did they turn out?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Family Supper

Drawing of Woman Putting Roast in Oven

We try to have supper together as a family as often as possible. It doesn't happen every night of course, but it happens more often than not. We sit around the table, hold hands while Mike asks the blessing and then eat a meal that's usually homemade. There's nothing magical about having a meal together as a family, but it gives us a great opportunity to come together at the end of the day and connect with each other. As the mom of the family, it's up to me to make the family supper a priority, and it's worth it. The time together is precious and is a portion of how our family builds its identity. We have had so many memorable conversations and joke telling sessions around the supper table over the years that we still talk about much later. Here is a list of conversation starters if you need a little push to get things going.

Getting a meal on the table every single night isn't easy I know. That's why it's so hard isn't it? The dailiness of it... Planning is the key. Somehow you aren't surprised are you? One suggestion I recently had from a friend who is a very busy church secretary is to put your roast (with all the potatoes, carrots, etc.) in your crockpot at night before you go to bed and put the inner part of your crock pot in the fridge. She then sets it out on the counter first thing in the morning to let it warm up slightly then places it in the crockpot on low. That keeps the stoneware part from cracking due to a sudden temperature change. She also uses disposable crockpot liners that she buys at the grocery store. These really help with cleanup after the meal. Now how easy is that? Wouldn't it be nice when your family walks in the door to smell something delicious cooking? I have supper in my crockpot right now. Let's have some wonderful time with our families this week. :)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Organization Challenge Week 3

How did last week's challenge go for you? Did you get your schedule all planned out for the month? I don't have meals planned out for the month, but I did get out my planner and write down all of our appointments and commitments.

I also found a really cute 2010 planner at a local book store. If you're going to have to look at it every day for a year, you might as well get a cute one right? :) Mine is just like this one only smaller so it will fit in my purse. I love that it has a place for phone numbers and note pages in the back. It also has a couple of small pockets that I will probably use for things like receipts or grocery lists.

This week's challenge is to Organize your Cleaning Schedule.

The goals for the week are:
Make a list of all the chores that need to be done around your house. I have mine on note cards which you can read about here. Break them down into weekly, monthly and seasonal. It's a good idea to share this list with your family (and hopefully get them involved). Most husbands and children have no idea how much work is involved in cleaning a home.

Look at your weekly schedule and decide what days are going to be heavy cleaning days and what days are going to be maintenance. Lately I have been dividing my cleaning days into "wet chores" such as bathrooms and mopping and "dry chores" such as dusting and vacuuming. Laundry gets done everyday around here (yes, I even did laundry on Thanksgiving).

Take 20 or 30 minutes each day to straighten the house and do a quick "swipe" of the bathrooms. This will keep things from getting totally out of control. You can find a great daily checklist here. You might also want to read how to fake a clean house. It could come in handy if you have last minute guests.

Stay organized
Get to bed on time and try to write in your journal (week 1).
Check you planner daily and remember to write things down on your to-do list to save yourself the stress of trying to remember everything (week 2).

Find week 2: Organize Your Schedule here
Week 1: Organize Your Mind here.

If any of you are organizing along with me I would love to hear how it's going for you! Remember, this is a process and we don't have to get organized all at once! In fact, I'm pretty sure that's impossible. :)

Saturday, November 28, 2009


I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your families! I think Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday in some ways...maybe because I like to cook and then lap up all the compliments. :)

I got my early Christmas present of The Pioneer Woman Cooks in the mail Friday (ordered from and tonight I made the chicken potpie recipe, except with leftover turkey. Everyone liked it and I don't have to feel bad about wasting all those good leftovers. I think this is the first year that I've had enough leftovers to actually make more than a couple of turkey sandwiches. Maybe everyone was too distracted by all the side dishes and pies to eat much turkey.

What do you do with your leftover turkey if you have any?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, Cooked Turkey
Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to each of you. I'm so very blessed to have the sweetest, most encouraging readers anywhere on the internet. Thank you for taking the time to visit with me! You make blogging so much fun.

"I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Southern Pecan Pie

I originally posted this recipe last year. I will be making it for our Thanksgiving dinner again. We all love it! What sort of desserts are you making for Thanksgiving?

1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup white corn syrup
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup pecan halves or pieces

In a bowl, slightly beat eggs and sugar, corn syrup, evaporated milk and vanilla. Blend well. Add pecans. (I usually save about half the pecans to arrange on top.)

Pour into unbaked 9" pie shell (You can find my pie crust recipe here). Bake in 400 degree oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 30 to 40 minutes or until filling is puffed in center and is well browned. Let pie cook before cutting. I probably could have let mine brown another 5 minutes or so, but it tasted just fine. :)

Paula Deen's Bourbon Pecan Pie is wonderful too. Why not have 2 pecan pies? :)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Organization Challenge Week 2


How did last week's challenge go for everyone? Did you do everything on the list? I struggled the most with getting to bed on time. Last week was very busy for us and by the weekend I was completely exhausted. I'm going to continue to work on it this week and it should be easier because we have several days off from work and school and my mom is hosting our Thanksgiving Dinner. All I have to do is bake a few pies, which I love to do anyway.

This week's challenge is to Organize Your Schedule. As the author of Organize Now (my inspiration for this series) says:
Each day we are given the gift of time. By choosing to spend it wisely and efficiently, you will reduce stress, spend more time on the things you want to do, feel more fulfilled at the end of the day and enjoy a more balanced life."

This week's goals are:

Buy a daily planner to use for both work/school/volunteer activities and personal activities. This is the perfect time of year to find one almost anywhere. I have found that a purse size works best for me. Of course, you can always use an online calendar/organizer like Cozi or Springpad, just make sure that your computer is easily accessible throughout the day if you choose this option.

Sit down with your family and plan the next month. Plan meals, divide errands, schedule Christmas activities, write down when your library books are due, etc. By the way, you'll find great menu planning help here if you need a refresher.

Gather your to do lists and create a master list for your planner. Divide the list into daily, weekly, and future tasks. Be realistic about what you can accomplish in a day and break larger tasks down into smaller goals.

Go ahead and schedule next year's dentist and doctor appointments (vet appointments too if you have a pet). Early morning or first thing after lunch are the best times to get. You're less likely to be delayed. I try to get us all in on one day if possible. Might as well spend one whole morning in the dentists office and get it over with instead of one at a time over the course of weeks.

Be sure and leave room for "downtime". You need it and so do your children.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Childhood Favorite

Children Laugh as They Lay in Wrapping Paper from Christmas Presents

I have had so much fun reading about your favorite gifts to give! You are all so thoughtful and creative!

While we're on the subject of Christmas gifts, I would like to know what was your favorite or most memorable gift that you received as a child?

I have to say that mine was the year I got a horse (I do live in Texas after all). We lived on a farm and after opening all the presents under the tree I was a little disappointed. My brother had opened several gifts and all I had was some candy in my stocking and a book. I didn't say a word though. I remember thinking that I didn't want to make my parents think I was ungrateful. Then my mother called me to come out to the front yard. There was my step-dad with a beautiful horse with a bow in her mane. I was thrilled to pieces!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What's Your Favorite Gift to Give?

Christmas Presents under Tree
Christmas Presents under Tree

I'm always looking for new and different gift ideas. What is your favorite gift to give? Do you have a "signature gift"? Do you go for practical or luxurious? I've known people who buy multiples of scented candles or a particular book that they give to everyone from their children's teachers to Grandma. I love scented candles and have thought about getting lots of them to give away this year. These smell really good and are on sale for $5 this week in the Bath and Body stores. I also saw these in a magazine recently and thought they looked like a good idea for the gals on my list.

I would also love to know if you do your shopping online and what sort of experiences you have had with it. I hear there are supposed to be lots of "Cyber Monday" deals this year, but I've never done much shopping online.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Organizing the Pantry

Photo courtesy of Country Living.

I have been organizing my pantry this week and I am loving it! Mine doesn't look nearly as cute as this one, but at least I can find everything now and I'm not in danger of something falling out on my head. :)

As soon as I get more than 5 minutes to sit at the computer I'll post some pictures and details of what I did. I'm seriously thinking of looking for a door like the one in the picture for my pantry. Of course that would mean I would have to keep the pantry organized at all times! I guess that would be good motivation wouldn't it?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

For Your Thanksgiving Table

The girls made these cute little candle holders in GAs for our Thanksgiving table a few years ago. They are just little terracotta pots and saucers glued together, painted and decorated. If your kids are interested in making a Thanksgiving craft, these are really easy and cute too! :)

In other news, I'm getting my pantry organized today and supper is already in the crockpot (it's a roast this time)! I've been inspired by a friend's pantry that is super organized with everything labeled. It's already looking so much better! I love it!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Crockpot Chicken with mushroom gravy

*Update below*
I'm trying a new slow cooker recipe today that I got from a friend at church. This will be the first time for me to try it. It sounds so good and easy. I'll let you know how it tastes. I think I'll serve it over noodles or rice.

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup dry white wine or chicken broth (not both)
1 can cream of chicken soup
4 oz. can of sliced mushrooms, drained

Place chicken in slow cooker. Season with salt and pepper' Combine wine and soup. Pour over chicken and top with mushrooms. Cover and cook on low 7 to 9 hours.

*I served it over egg noodles and Mike and the kids loved it! This will definitely go into the regular rotation.