Saturday, January 25, 2014

A Reminder of Warmer Days

In our ongoing days of unusually cold temperatures, I needed pictures to remind me of warmer days. 
Hope these can brighten your day, too.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Double Chocolate Muffins

I recently won a cookbook from Carole over at Carole's Chatter. If you don't know Carole, please stop by her blog, she always shares so many wonderful things! This cookbook was so fun for me to win because it was a MUFFIN cookbook, perfect for me!  I'm definitely looking forward to trying more of the recipes in this cookbook because they are just a little bit different from what I am used to....  the recipes are from New Zealand!

The first recipe I tried is Double Chocolate Muffins. Reasons for trying this recipe are obvious by the name, right? I have to tell ya, just from the batter, I knew they were going to be chocolatey bliss. Once sitting down to enjoy the finished product, they have the perfect crisp muffin top, and moist inside. And definitely, the right amount of chocolate!

Double Chocolate Muffins Adapted from (Marvellous Muffins by Alison Holst)

1 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup baking cocoa
7 Tbsp butter
1 egg
1 cup yogurt (I used Greek Strawberry Yogurt)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
1/4 cup white coarse sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray 12 muffin cups with non-stick spray; set aside.  In large mixing bowl, sift dry ingredients.

In medium sauce pan, melt butter. After melted, let set for 5 minutes to cool. To the melted butter, add egg, yogurt, milk, and vanilla.  Stir until smooth.  Add the butter mixture to the dry ingredients. Fold together until all ingredients are moistened. Do NOT over mix.  Divide mixture evenly into prepared muffin cups.  Sprinkle each muffin with chocolate chips and coarse sugar.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Let cool in muffin pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack.

Enjoy as many of them as you like, then repeat with another batch! (optional)

Sharing this at:
Weekend Potluck

Monday, January 20, 2014

Grandma's Favorite Sugar Cookie

I've shared before about Gram's Coconut Crisps that we were always treated to when visiting Gram and Gramp. Today, I am sharing the Favorite Sugar Cookie that we always had when we visited my Grandma. It was always fun that both grandmothers cooked different types of cookies, so there was always a different treat waiting! My grandma, almost always, had this sugar cookie on hand. Once in a while she would have a different cookie, or she would be out and we would get to help her bake some. Always a treat!

I haven't had this cookie in YEARS! I was so surprised when reviewing the church cookbook, that Grandma gave me when I was 5 years old, to find her name next to a recipe for sugar cookies. That had to be her signature cookie. Mine are missing her years of expertise, but this was definitely her recipe, and I am so happy to have it in my collection! Grandma's sugar cookie is a crisp cookie, with just the faintest hint of lemon. Perfect with a cup of tea!

Grandma's Favorite Sugar Cookie

1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp lemon extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
Nonpareils, optional or other seasonal sprinkles

In large mixing bowl, add powdered sugar, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, butter, egg and vanilla. Mix until all ingredients are combined. In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar.  Add dry ingredients to butter mixture, mixing until all ingredients are combined.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for one hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Scoop dough using a small cookie scoop, roll dough into balls, then roll in remaining granulated sugar.  Place on baking sheet several inches apart.  Flatten ball with fork that has been dipped in sugar. Sprinkle with nonpareils.  Bake about 13-15 minutes or until edges are a just turning a very light tan.

Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack.

Sharing this at:
Treasure Box Tuesday
Weekend Potluck 
Simple Supper Tuesday

Friday, January 17, 2014

Random 5 Friday

Random 5 Friday

Our little bantam, Butterscotch, laid her first egg yesterday! That was a long time waiting.

Dental work is so discouraging in my family where bad teeth are in the gene's. I no more than recovered from last weeks dental procedure, and an old filling fell out. Ugh.

I usually prefer salty snacks to sweet ones.  But when I am standing in line at the grocery store, 9 times out of 10, I leave with a Reece's Peanut Butter Cup :)

I love my job, my employers, and my co-workers. It is so enjoyable going to work every day. I know how lucky and fortunate I am to be able to say this.

Vacation plans are in the works. The thoughts of warmer places are helping keep us warm. Even though it's more than a month away, it's still nice to know that it's coming!

Happy Friday Ya'll!

For todays link up with Nancy, click here

Thursday, January 16, 2014

My Baking Tips

My mom has followed several of my recipes and will complain that her cookies didn't turn out like mine. "What do you do? What's your secret?" Really no secrets, but I thought I would put together a list of things I do when baking that I believe produce the best products! This is relating mainly to cookies, but the same applies to any of my baking.

1. Eggs. I always have my eggs at room temperature before adding them to a recipe. If you forgot to get your eggs out ahead of time, gently place the eggs in a bowl of warm water for about fifteen minutes. 

2. Eggs again.  In my baking I always use large eggs. Save the smaller eggs for breakfast.

3. Butter. I only use real butter. No margarine. Ever. 

4. Vanilla. Only the real stuff. No imitation flavoring. Ever. I used to always have Mexican Vanilla, but my grandparents aren't doing the snow bird thing anymore, so I've been trying other brands. But, just use the real stuff. If it says "Imitation", it's not worth the time.

5. Baking soda/Baking powder. Don't let the stuff expire. Keep it fresh. If you can't remember, or aren't good at checking dates, just buy new every year when you start your holiday baking!

6. Sugar. I only buy Cane sugar. In my stores there is only one brand of cane sugar, I will buy nothing else.

7. Flour. Pick a brand and stick with it. I don't know if one brand is better than another, but I believe they have their differences. I stick with my brand, because I know the results I get with it.

8. Ovens. Know your oven. Everyone's oven is different, and you may need to compensate your baking time depending on your oven. Not sure? Get an oven thermometer and find out how exact your oven temperature is.

9. Baking sheets. My cookie sheets are "air bake" sheets. I believe in them.

10. Cooling racks. Own a set. Depending on the recipe, you don't always want your cookie staying on that hot baking sheet to long. Once your transfer your cookies to a rack, the sheets will cool a little faster which allows you to prep the pan sooner with more cookies!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Random 5 Friday


I think we are all going a little stir crazy this winter, and want to stretch our legs when the weather permits. 
Even our four legged friends.

As many people do, we plan on some year soon spending our winters in a climate warmer than Wisconsin. We do like snow though, just looking for milder... Tennessee or Carolina's maybe?

I spend more time than I should looking at property for sale. Places that are not realistic at all. 
Like this one.

I had to get a tooth pulled this week. Not sure what was more brutal, 
that or the recent temperatures.

Truckin' Man went back on the road this week. He took the week of Christmas and New Years off.... Then Monday the rig wouldn't start due to the temps. Tuesday the place he was delivering was closed due to the weather. Wednesday... finally, on the road again!

Linking up with Nancy @ A Rural Journal

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Honey Oatmeal Cookies with Dark Chocolate Chips

It's time to "Fill the Cookie Jar"! This month Cynthia gave the group a couple of options, one of which was "healthy".  I know I am not alone in trying to start the new year off with "healthy" goals in mind, so that was the cookie choice I went with. The first two recipes were NOT to my liking. In fact, one batch went directly to the chickens!  The second batch, Truckin' Man rejected as well, but I kept them around, they will work for dunking some day when the cookie craving has hit.

Thankfully, the third recipe was the charm! I found this recipe hidden in a stack of recipe newsletters that my Gram had saved from the late 70's to early 80's. Since Gram had saved them all these years, I new that there had be some amazing recipes tucked away in them. I found several little gems in themI did find several little gems. You may hear about more of them in the future :)

What I have brought for the "healthy" cookie is a Honey Oatmeal Cookie with Dark Chocolate. It may not be the healthiest cookie ever, but I liked the twist with the honey. And, I added some dark chocolate in, that's healthy right? And to kick it up another level, dried cherries! These were delicious. They were more "cakey" then I typically make my cookies, but all the flavors made them so enjoyable.

If you are interested in joining Fill The Cookie Jar group on facebook, fill out the form that can be found at Fill The Cookie Jar. Each month we bake a different theme for the cookie.
We bake, we share and we enjoy our cookies!

Honey Oatmeal Cookies with Dark Chocolate Chips

1 cup honey
2/3 cup butter, softened
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups oatmeal
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup dried cherries  (raisins or dried cranberries would be great too!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In large mixing bowl, cream honey, butter and eggs.  Cream until light in color.  In medium bowl, add both flours, baking soda, salt, and baking powder; whisk together.  Add dry ingredients to honey mixture, mixing until fully incorporated.  Add oatmeal and vanilla; stir.  Fold in chocolate chips and dried cherries.

Use a medium cookie scoop and drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the cookies are light golden. Cool for 5 minutes on baking sheet, then transfer to cooling rack. Cool completely. Store in airtight container.

Enjoy :)

Sharing this at:
Weekend Potluck

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Choo Choo Cabbage and Ham Soup

My bestie gave me this recipe a couple months ago when we met up for a fun day out by the Mississippi River. We were checking out the swan migrations, and having a fun girls day away. As always, she brought me lots of fun foodie gifts from the big city, but this time she also brought a recipe for me to try. One of her co-workers had brought some soup in for lunch, and everyone loved it so much the lady had to follow up by bringing the recipe in! This recipe is based on a very popular soup served at a restaurant in Minnesota. 

This is a great soup for a cold winter day.  It will warm your bellies, and we all need that with the weather that has been hitting most of the country!

Be sure to enter my drawing for the chance to try Almondina.  Click here for your chance!

Choo Choo Cabbage and Ham Soup

2 Tbsp butter
1 cup onion, diced
1 cup celery, diced
1 lb cabbage, shredded ( I used red cabbage )
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 qt chicken stock
2 cup ham, diced
1/4 c butter
6 Tbsp flour
3 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
1 tsp salt
Tobasco to taste
1/3 cup shredded parmesan

Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a large pot.  Once melted, add onions and celery. Saute for several minutes. Add cabbage, red bell pepper; continue to saute.  When vegetables are tender, stir in ham.

In small pan, heat cream to hot, but not boiling. Meanwhile, in another small pan start the roux.  Melt 1/4 cup butter. Add flour, stirring continuously. Continue cooking for 3-4 minutes, continuing to stir.  Add cream to cabbage mixture, stirring constantly.  When soup is just below boiling point, and the roux one teaspoon at a time, while stirring. Add pepper, salt, tobasco, and parmesan cheese.

Garnish with additional shaved parmesan cheese if desired.


Sharing this at:
Treasure Box Tuesday
Weekend Potluck 
In and Out of the Kitchen 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Almondina Feature and Giveaway

I was recently given the opportunity to try a cookie that is new to me, Almondina. These are a healthy cookie, with a crisp crunch. Honestly, at first, I was hesitant. I am used to the sinfully thick chewy cookies.  Well, Almondina has won my cookie loving heart!  These cookies come in so many flavors, there is one to fit any craving you have. I enjoyed many of these with a cup of coffee, and some I tried with a thin spread of marscapone cheese, and that folks.... was delicious! I wanted to try some crumbled on top of a bowl of ice cream, but .... it has just been to cold to have ice cream in my part of the world! But, trust me, I think it would be a great way to top your ice cream!

I can't remember the last time I made a New Years Resolution, but we have made them this year. More exercise, and healthier eating. Almondina is a perfect snack to help us along.  The cookies are:
  • Crunchy, addictive, healthful
  • Free of cholesterol, coloring and preservatives
  • Made with no added fat or salt
  • Low in calories – only 30 per slice
  • Proudly made in America
  • Kosher and Pareve (non dairy)

It is hard for me to pick a favorite flavor, but I am torn between the Chocolate Cherry, and the AlmonDuo which is loaded with pistachios! You need to try these!

(This picture is just a preview of the flavors offered!)
I received a free sample of the product for the purpose of this review and to facilitate a giveaway. The opinions expressed herein are my own and are not indicative of the opinions of Almondina.

Check out their Store Finder to see what stores in your area stock Almondina. You will also see that you can buy the cookies on line, if you live in the boondocks like I do, and don't have a lot of shopping options near by.

Almondina is offering one of my readers the same sampler package that I just enjoyed. Enter below to win some of Grandma Dina's Almondina cookies.  Follow the rafflecopter to get your entries, please give it a minute to load. Entries will be accepted through January 11th, 12am. Winner will have 48 hours to respond, or another winner will be drawn.