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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas and Monkey Bread

I always make monkey bread for christmas morning, for those of you who don't know what that is, it's like sticky buns, but I make it out of pillsbury buttermilk biscuits. You cut them in 1/4ths and shake them in a mixture of 1 cup sugar and 2 tsps cinnamon and put in a bundt pan or I use two foil cake pans, but layer pecans throughout the dough, then you take 1/2 cup of sugar/cinnamon mixture, 1/2 cup of brown sugar and two sticks of butter and melt to a boil and pour over the pan, bake at 350 for 30 mins. it's delicious!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Last Minute Shopping

Today I think I'm finally finished my Christmas shopping. I got Holly's pajamas at Target today, christmas deer pattern. It's always been a tradition in my family to leave a present of pajamas beside the bedroom door to be opened first and worn on Christmas morning. I remember loving that part, my sisters and I would get into one of our rooms and open them together, put them on, then wake up mom and dad. We were not allowed to go downstairs until my mom and dad were already down there, dad got his coffee, and the christmas music was turned on. The music was our signal it was OK to go downstairs.

I've been carrying on this tradition with Holly since she was old enough to open a package. She looks forward to it just as I did when I was a kid.


Last Minute

Friday, December 19, 2008

Fudge bombed....

Well my fudge didn't set, it almost set, but it won't come out of the pan in one piece because it's soft in the middle. I used a candy thermometer but my pot or the stove would not allow the chocolate to reach higher than 225. I need a different pot I think, this is a non-stick pot, I think I should be using a regular saucepan, not non-stick. I will try again one more time.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Frosted Sugar Cookie Cut Outs

Before and after

These are soooo yummy, it's hard for me to know they are in the freezer and not go and EAT THEM! I only ate two of them last night, I was a good girl. I also made a batch of Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies last night, they are also delicious. Tonight I attempt to make the fudge. I'm feeling confident!


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Frosted Sugar Cookie Cutouts and Gritty Fudge

Today Holly and I are making frosted sugar cookies, these are a tradition in my family since I can remember. These days though I use the Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Sacks and use the cut-outs recipe on the back, they actually taste exactly like my mom's scratch sugar cookies. I also cheat on the frosting by using store bought icing instead of making my own butter cream frosting. I separate it into three bowls and make red, green, and blue frosting. I have a large collection of christmas cookie cutters, some are those old metal ones. I have my favorites and plan to make at least 4 dozen cookies. Fudge is also a tradition, old fashioned fudge, the gritty kind that dissolves in your mouth like sugar. It's my grandfather's recipe and probably his mom's recipe before that. I shared that recipe with Rene last year. I will attempt a batch of fudge tomorrow, it's sail or fail with this recipe, but this time I finally have a candy thermometer so I will know the exact temperature to pull off the stovetop and pour in a pan. If you don't have the precise temperature it won't set and we usually throw it back in the pan and try again. I'd love to make my first batch that set on the first try. Wish us luck!


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cinnamon Pecan Muffins Recipe

1 1/2 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil

2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, melted

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and mix together with a wire whisk, then stir in the chopped pecans. Mix the egg, milk and oil in another bowl, then stir into the dry ingredients to moisten. Spoon into greased or paper lined muffin cups (fill about halfway). Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until done.

For topping combine the sugar and cinnamon. Brush the tops of the warm muffins with butter and dip the top of muffin into sugar/cinnamon mixture.
Enjoy! Makes 12.

Cinnamon Almonds Recipe

1 egg white
1 teaspoon cold water
4 cups whole almonds
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C). Lightly grease a 10x15 inch jellyroll pan or cookie sheet. Lightly beat the egg white; add water, and beat until frothy but not stiff. Add the nuts, and stir until well coated. Mix the sugar, salt, and cinnamon, and sprinkle over the nuts. Toss to coat, and spread evenly on the prepared pan.
Bake for 1 hour in the preheated oven, stirring occasionally, until golden. Allow to cool, then store nuts in airtight containers.

Cinnamon Pecan Muffins, etc.

I finally did my test batch of cinnamon pecan muffins and the first batch turned out more like scones. Hard in texture and crumbly, though they did taste ok. I found a similar recipe that called for more oil and cinnamon and I added more sugar and the next batch turned out great, I brushed the tops with melted butter and rolled them in a cinnamon-sugar mixture. Yummy. So I plan to bake the muffins for the christmas baskets on Saturday along with my Christmas Tree cake. I found this tree shaped foil pan with a lid and did a test cake last week, it was yummy! I used Devils Food Cake, those small boxes you find of the Pillsbury cakes at the dollar store and vanilla icing, well the pan, cake mix, and icing all came from the "nothing over 99 cents" store. If you have one of these in your neighborhood I highly recommend them, I found large boxes of Captain Crunch with or without crunch berries last week, one week I got bags of bertolli for a buck! Oh and just last weekend I found those Nestle Milkshakes the caramel swirl ones! I bought six, I'm addicted to them! Anyway, back to the cake.....

I used food coloring to make the green icing for the cake and iced the whole cake except for the stump which I left un-iced and brown. Then I put some of the vanilla icing in a baggy and snipped off a corner and made it look kind of like snow on the tree branches. Then we just put green and red mini m&m's on it and it was finished, it was almost to pretty to cut. So I will re-create this cake also Saturday since our family Christmas Party is this Sunday.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Baskets and Cinnamon Almonds - Part II

The cinnamon almonds came out pretty good, but I recommend making sure your sheet is pretty well greased, my almonds stuck a little and I had to scrape them off and I think that took away some of the sweet cinnamon coating, but they are still delicious. If anybody wants the recipe I'll post it. The pot roast last night was soooooooooooo delicious, Mike is a good cook and he makes the best homemade GRAVY!

Christmas Baskets, I forgot to mention these in the last post, I am creating 2 christmas baskets and one Hannukah basket, I got two red and green round baskets with handles, and a black and natural wood round handled basket, each basket cost $1 at the Dollar Tree. So far I have made a microwave heating pad for each basket and I sewed them myself! My sister gave me this portable sewing machine and it worked great! I used lentils for the filling. I used 2 different patterns of plaid 100% cotton material, 100% cotton is important since they will be heated in the microwave. Each heating pad cost me approximately $2 to make. I also added to each basket a container of the cinnamon almonds in these cute little round plastic christmas jars with air-tight lids, cost is approximately $3 each including the jars. I found these nice square flat tins of christmas blend teas for each basket also, cost is $1.20 per tin. I always include a bottle of sparking cider, I got apple-pomegranite and apple-peach, and I found these lovely velvety christmas wine bottle bags with jingle bells on them, they look fabulous, cost is $3.50 each including the bag. The last thing I will add will be Cinnamon-Pecan Muffins, 3 muffins per basket, I already had the ingredients but needed to purchase a 1/2 cup bag of chopped pecans at $1.20 a bag. Lastly I will add some homemade ornament that I already have. The total cost per basket is approximately $10-11. Not bad for a christmas present that took alot of thought and preparation but will look like I spent $40!


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas Baskets and Cinnamon Almonds

Whew, what a day, I've been to the Dollar Tree, Big Lots, Walmart and Save-a-Lot. I found some nice things for stocking stuffers and was on a quest to find the cheapest whole natural almonds I could find. Finally I found them at Big Lots 9 oz. can for $3.00 and I bought two. Anybody ever make Cinnamon Roasted Almonds? They are baking in the oven slowly at 250 degrees as I write this post. I can't wait to find out if they turned out ok. I finished the Christmas Tree finally, lots of bows, but it looks terrific! We are having a pot roast for dinner with potatoes, carrots, celery and biscuits! I love gravy! I'm also going to bake a test batch of Cinnamon Pecan Muffins. Want one?


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Good Luck Rene'!

Today is Rene's official release of her book "Sonshine Girls". I wish her all the luck in the world for a great book signing!


Christmas Tree and Decorations...

The tree went up last night and I must say what a lovely tree it is. Mike picked it out and he picked out the most wonderfully shaped christmas tree. Holly decorated most of it with our homemade decorations as I told her the special stories related to each ornament. This is the first year she helped me so much with the tree and it looks wonderful. I have to hang all the icicles, candy canes, and red and gold bows for the finishing touch today. Oh and today is our Kids4crafts show at Bookman's on Speedway, wish us luck!


Friday, December 12, 2008

My first blog post....

Hey, to anybody reading this blog! Merry Christmas to you all! I am in the process of decorating my house right now, I finished most of the indoor decorating last night, I will put a photo up soon. We are getting our Christmas Tree today and the house lights are going up. We are a little late on putting up Christmas this year, but I've been through alot this month so far so better late than never! Ok until my next post...........