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. :)