Monday, December 29, 2014

A Look Back at the Year

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I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season with your friends and family! We enjoyed Christmas Day at my parents. This year we were lucky to have my sister and her family join us. Since they live in Canada, this is the first year in many that we have all been together for any holidays.

It's been such a busy year for us on the farm. I do take picture after picture, to track all the progress we have made since becoming homeowners. One quiet day I decided to try and put them all together into a fun movie to share!
 

Hope you enjoy a little peak into what has gone on for us this year!





Sunday, December 21, 2014

Icebox Cookies

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A couple years ago a friend and I started getting together to do some holiday baking together. We usually crank out several recipes after work, and divide them up. We have used my recipes, and hers, so it is also a great way to try some new recipes. The first year we did this, I fell in love with her Ice Box Cookies. It is an old fashioned, simple recipe, and I love it. 

Just plan ahead a bit as you have to let the dough chill over night.



Icebox Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups light brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
8 oz dates, finely chopped**

In large bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar until smooth and creamy. Add eggs and vanilla, mix well.  In small bowl, combine baking soda, salt and flour. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture, mixing well.  Add walnuts and dates, mix until evenly distributed through dough.

Line 9x5 pan with plastic wrap. Press cookie dough into lined pan. Smooth top of dough until level. Cover with additional plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Refrigerate at least 8 hours, but no more than 24.

When ready to bake cookies preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove dough from pan. With serrated knife, cut dough crosswise into 1/8 - 1/4 inch thick slices**. Then, cut each slice crosswise into 3 cookies. Place cookies, on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly golden. Transfer cookies to cooling rack.

Store in airtight container. 

Enjoy!


**To help chop the dates, sprinkle with a teaspoon of flour. That will keep them from sticking to your knife.

**If the dough gets to warm, it won't slice properly. Put it back in the refrigerator for a few minutes to get it chilled.

Sharing this at:
Weekend Potluck

Monday, December 8, 2014

Rotary Lights

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One of the closest cities to me in Wisconsin has a wonderful tradition that has been going on for twenty years. Their beautiful Riverside Park, on the Mississippi River, is transformed into a winter wonderland of lights. 

The Rotary Lights is a fundraiser to "Feed the Hungry"


There are more than 3 millions lights on in this park!

You never know what you will find in the lights.
 
Maybe even a spaceship!

I love the snowman. He is one of my favorites, year after year.

The prettiest fireplace I have seen all season!

If you are ever in my neck of the woods, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, 
you should visit the Rotary Lights!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

French Silk Pie

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If someone asks me for something, I generally try to accommodate them and help out as needed. When someone asks for food, I got it! Any reason to bake or cook more than for the two of us, and I am all over it! When lining up our Thanksgiving menu, and my dad said that 2 pies weren't enough, he wanted three, I just asked what kind he wanted. He wouldn't give me any input on flavors, and I already had pumpkin and pecan on the list. Chocolate, gotta have some chocolate.

Once again, I turned to one of my amazing blogger friends for a recipe. Michaela, from An Affair from the Heart, had just shared her French Silk Pie and it sounded so good. French Silk Pie was always my go to dessert at a pie joint in the Twin Cities. I have certain standards when it comes to French Silk Pie, and I was always disappointed at holidays, back in the day, when the pie's came from the wrong place (Yes... I used to buy my pies instead of baking them!  Don't tell...) So, whether to try a new recipe for a holiday meal was a big leap for me, but I went for it.


I really didn't over indulge on Thanksgiving until it came to this pie.  This pie is so amazingly decadent.  The chocolate was perfect and silky in every bite. And you know what else about this pie? It's easy to make! Your mixer does all the work for you!

Yes... this recipe uses raw eggs. I eat enough raw eggs in other things (like cookie dough) that it doesn't worry me. If you aren't ok with it, you can always use pasteurized eggs.

Note... If you are making this pie ahead of time and transporting, do NOT, I repeat... do NOT forget to take the chocolate curls you made for garnish!



French Silk Pie  (Source: An Affair from the Heart)


1 9 inch pie crust, baked and cooled
3 ounces unsweeted chocolate, melted and cooled (be very sure chocolate is not warm!)
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
Whipped cream
Chocolate curls for garnish (optional)

Following directions on package, melt unsweetened chocolate, and set aside to cool.  Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add cooled chocolate and vanilla, mixing well. Scrape down sides of bowl.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating for 5 minutes after each addition. Set that timer! After 15 minutes, your filling is done. Pour into cooled pie shell, and let chill overnight.

Top with whipped cream and chocolate curls.

Enjoy!

Sharing this recipe at:
Treasure Box Tuesday 
Simple Supper Tuesday 
Weekend Potluck 
Foodie Friends Friday 
Weekend re-Treat

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Mounds Bars

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It's time to Fill the Cookie Jar! The theme for December is Christmas/Hanukah. When it came time to bake for this month, I immediately thought of the bars my friend Terra, over at Cafe Terra, had shared a while ago on facebook. These bars were a family recipe that Terra's mom has been making for years. I knew that her bars were going to be in my holiday baking line up, so what better time to try them out?! 



Do to the fact that I live a bazillion miles from the grocery store, I have to improvise one ingredient with what I had on hand. Terra's original recipe used Hershey bars, and I didn't have any and wasn't about to drive back to town for candy bars, so I tweaked her chocolate layer a bit to be just chocolate chips.

These bars immediately got Truckin' Man's seal of approval! Even though we were testing them before they were completely set, and had to use forks! The perfect balance in each layer. I really need to bake with coconut more than once a year!



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!


Mounds Bars (Source: Cafe Terra)

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 cups sweetened coconut flakes
1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In small bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar, and melted butter. Mix until completely combined. Press evenly into 9 x 13 pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Let cool.

While crust is cooling, mix together coconut and sweetened condensed milk. Stir well. Pour over cooled crust. Bake for 10 minutes. Let cool.

When cooled slightly, melt chocolate chips following directions on package. Spread melted chocolate over top coconut layer. 

Let cool and set for a couple hours. Cut into squares. Store in airtight container.

Enjoy! 

Sharing this recipe at:
Foodie Friends Friday 
Weekend Potluck 



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