Saturday, December 28, 2013

2013 Christmas Baking

Here is what I baked for Christmas this year:
The nativity cookies were a lot of work, then we ate them!
The donkey and one of the Wise Men are gingerbread.

Gingerbread Men


3 cups flour
2 teaspoons McCormick® Ginger,
1 teaspoon McCormick® Cinnamon,
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon McCormick® Nutmeg,
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg
1 teaspoon McCormick® Pure Vanilla
1.Mix flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and salt in large bowl. Set aside. Beat butter and brown sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add molasses, egg and vanilla;mix well. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until well mixed. Press dough into a thick flat disk. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.
2.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness on lightly floured work surface. Cut into gingerbread men shapes with 5-inch cookie cutter. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets. I use parchment paper. Decorate with red hots or nonpariels before baking.
3.Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges of cookies are set and just begin to brown. Cool on baking sheets 1 to 2 minutes. Remove to wire racks; cool completely. Decorate cooled cookies as desired. Store cookies in airtight container up to5 days.

Roll and Cut Sugar Cookies

  1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. I use parchment paper.
  3. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.               MAKES ABOUT FIVE DOZEN COOKIES

COOKIE ICING - dries quick, hard and shiny

  1. In a small bowl, stir together confectioners' sugar and milk until smooth. Beat in corn syrup and almond extract until icing is smooth and glossy. If icing is too thick, add more corn syrup. I USED VANILLA EXTRACT INSTEAD OF ALMOND.
  2. Divide into separate bowls, and add food colorings to each to desired intensity. Dip cookies, or paint them with a brush.

Christmas Crack Toffee

Christmas toffee
  • 50 saltine crackers (approx.)
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 cup soft brown sugar
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 cup M&M's
  1. Pre-heat oven to 325°.
  2. Line 9x13 jelly roll pan with aluminum foil. Spray foil with cooking spray and then line pan with saltine crackers.
  3. Place butter and sugar in a medium sized pot over low medium/low heat. Stir until butter is melted. Once butter is melted, bring to a boil for exactly 3 minutes. Stir constantly.
  4. Once it's nice and bubbly, remove pan from heat and pour evenly over saltine crackers. Spread mixture with a knife... however it doesn't have to be perfect. Try to move fast during this part so the toffee doesn't harden.
  5. Place pan in oven and bake for 7-8 minutes. The mixture will spread evenly over the crackers as it bakes.
  6. Remove pan from oven and then sprinkle the chocolate chips on top of the toffee while it's still hot. Let the chocolate chips melt for a few minutes and then spread all over the toffee with a spatula. Sprinkle M&M's on top and then place in the fridge for 30 minutes. Once chocolate has hardened break pieces off the foil and store for up to two weeks in an container.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


Mark and I bought the last half-bushel box of peaches a week ago at the farmer's market.  They said it was the last of the season, which made this box of fuzzy pink deliciousness even more special!  Once home, the peaches went in every window sill to ripen.  They were really not ripe at all and as hard as brickbats!  Once soft, I dropped a few at a time into boiling water for 30-60 seconds, then into an ice bath, then slipped the skins off and sliced sliced sliced until no more feeling was in my hands.  I squeezed a meyer lemon from mom's tree over the whole batch and sat it in the fridge to figure out perzactly what the plan is.  Pickled peaches? Peach preserves?  My sister Patty suggested peach butter in the crock pot.  We have a winner!

The recipe is simple...fill my big crock with sliced peaches, 4 cups sugar, 2 T cinnamon, 1 tsp ground cloves, 1/2 tsp allspice and cook all day on low with the lid ajar.  Once it seems cooked down enough, I will use my immersion blender to liquefy before canning.  The canning cook time is 20 minutes.  Here's the link to the recipe, along with some yummy pictures.

There is still a good potful of sliced peaches left that didn't fit in the crock pot.  I'll make pickled peaches!  This recipe looks good!  I just kind of slosh in what I think will taste good... The cin, allspice, cloves, vinegar and the juice from the peaches go into the pot when I tasted it, yum yum! The announcement goes out - "I could drink this peachy vinegar juice for lunch, it's so good!"   I'm not exactly a measurement cooker. Follow your heart and taste buds.

On the back burner of the stove?  Big old white lima beans that soaked overnight.  Daddy's special dinner request: lima beans and rice with ham and spring onions.  Meeeeow meow said the kitty!

Oh gee whiz, I was taking down a box of half-pint jars from the pantry to wash for canning, but instead, they are filled with blueberry-orange conserve and blueberry and strawberry jellies!  Oops.  So glad to see that I didn't give everything away, as I thought last week, "Aw more strawberry jam!" I will have to make a trip to the store for more jars.   Looks like it's time to make a big old honkin' batch of datil pepper sauce too!  The bush has been bearing pepper after pepper and as they ripen, I toss them into a baggiein the freezer for future sauce cooking.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Cherry Cream Cheese Bake

1 can cherry pie filling
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tube crescent rolls
1/2 stick of butter
2 tbsp vanilla
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Grease an 8 x 8 baking dish.
Take half of the crescent rolls and lay them out on the bottom of the baking dish.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, blend cream cheese until smooth.
Once smooth, add powdered sugar and vanilla and blend.
Next, spoon onto the crescent rolls in baking dish and spread evenly.
Top with can of cherry pie filling.
Top with the last half (4 triangles) of the crescent rolls.
Melt butter and pour on top of crescents.
Top with granulated sugar and bake for 25 minutes or
until browned.

A simple to assemble dessert, however it seemed like way too much sugar on top.  
It's still in the oven and an update is coming on outcome.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Datil Pepper Jelly

1 ½ cups cider vinegar
9 datil peppers
1 green pepper
6 cups sugar
8 oz certo
3-4 drops green food coloring

Place datil peppers, green pepper and ½ c vinegar into blender.
Blend until completely liquefied.
Place sugar into med saucepan, add datil/vinegar mixture.
Rinse blender bowl with remaining vinegar and place in saucepan. Bring to boil and simmer 2-3 minutes.
Add certo and remove from heat.
Cool slightly then pour into jelly jars. Seal.
Can be refrigerated or hot sealed and store in cool dark place for 3-6 months.
Personal Notes: Use the small wide mouth jelly jars so they can be placed on a platter with crackers and served from the container.


Mahonese - Spanish Mayonnaise

First of all, let me say that we hate the word Mayonesa or Mayonnaise because is the name the french gave to our sauce when they "stole" the recipe and said that they were the creators. So the original name is Mahonesa and this word means "from Mahón" so Salsa Mahonesa means "Mahon's Sauce".

Ingredients:- Eggs
- Olive oil
- Salt
- Half lemon

The number of eggs depends of the quantity you want to obtain. Normally for 4 persons 1 or 2 eggs is enough.

1. Separate the yolks from the white using the shell.

2. Put the yolks in a mortar and add a bit of salt.

3. With the pestle, move the yolks continuously and energetically on circles and DON'T STOP. And very important: if you begin doing the circles from left to right (or vice-versa) you have to keep this direction during ALL the process. Otherwise will be impossible to obtain the Mahonesa. 

4. Add a thin stream of Olive Oil while you are moving the yolks, continuously and don't stop. Is very important don't add more oil than the yolk can absorb, so be careful, otherwise you will break the Mahonesa. 

5. Once is done, add the juice of half lemon and mix a bit more with the pestle.

- If you add half garlic clove at the end and mix it well with the pestle you will obtain a variety of Mahonesa called "All-i-oli" (garlic and oil) that is very good for meats and BBQ.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Almond Flour Pancakes are Gross

I made almond flour pancakes this morning, a recipe recommended by a Paleo Diet site.  The recipe was (loosely, from memory) this:
1-3/4 c almond flour
2 eggs
3/4 c water
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt, cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Except for the fact that they looked like pancakes and were a vessel for blueberries and blueberry syrup, tasted a lot like toasted almonds, not something you want to have a forkful of in your mouth.  We ate it and we are full, but I'd rather not have this ever again.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Southern Pound Cake

My father always insists, "no cards, no gifts" and so I offered something he will not turn down...
"Daddy, I want to bake you a cake for Father's Day.  What would you like?"
"Pound cake!" he said without missing a beat.
And so I did and it was absolutely wonderful.  I baked at his house and his nose was twitching when the wonderful aroma wafted into the family room.  As soon as I turned it from the pan, I cut him a piece and served it with a handful of fresh blueberries.  Pound cake is always better after it has had a chance to sit for 24 hours, but a smidgeling taste confirmed that this was one heck of a good cake!  With my husband, brother in law, and two sisters there, plus the big slice we brought mom in the hospital, there was only half a cake left on day one.    Happy Father's day, y'all!

Southern Pound Cake
1 cup butter (1/2 lb.)
1/2 cup oil
2 1/2 cups sugar
5 eggs
3 cups flour
1 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. almond ext.
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
Cream butter and oil until light.  Add sugar gradually, creaming well, add eggs one at a time.  Beat well after each addition.  Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.  Combine milk and flavorings, add alternately with dry ingredients to creamed mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients, blend thoroughly after each addition.  Turn into tube pan well greased and floured in bottom only.
Bake at 325* for 1 hour 25 min.

Kudos to Southern Hospitality Blog for the yummy recipe.  I will be making this one again for sure!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Beef Short Ribs in the Pressure Cooker

I have made beef short ribs a few times before, but tonight I made THIS RECIPE from the past and cooked it in the pressure cooker, bringing the puffs up to pretty constant with a brief seconds pause between for twenty minutes.  I used 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar and 3/4 cup ketsup as the pressure cooker suggestion is to be close to 2 cups of liquid.  It smells terrific!  We will have corn, garlic knots and pickled beets with it.  I am bringing this to my parents' house, as I do most nights since I moved to Jacksonville.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day Pot Roast

Pioneer Woman does it best!

I opt out on the rosemary and thyme, add celery and mushrooms, and put long quartered peeled potatoes on top to bake.  Yum.
Momma and Daddy are coming over, maybe Patty and Jon.  And of course, Mark and me.
Served with iced tea and parker house rolls.

Dessert was Key Lime Pie.,1937,146163-232204,00.html

Momma and Daddy loved dinner.  Patty and Jon will arrive later.

Friday, May 3, 2013


Mennonite Girls Can Cook is one of my favorite "go to" sites for online cookbookery.  Every recipe is dependable, delectable, and desirable.  You MUST check out their site, and while you're at it, take a chance to win their brand new cook book.  Mother's Day is coming.  Someone should buy a copy for you... Someone should buy a copy for ME!!
Here is the link on how to enter the drawing:

Good luck!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Recipes with Datil Peppers

Check these recipes out.
My favorite is Shrimp Pilau  (we pronounce it "perlo").
The Fire and Ice Cucumber Salad sounds tasty!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Salsa Amigo!

When I bought strawberries to make jam, I also got a big ole honkin' bag of tomatoes, 3 jalapeños, a bunch of cilantro and a big sweet onion.  I didn't follow a recipe, just dipped the tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds and then an ice water bath to peel them.  Next, I cored and squeezed out the seeds and chopped them up. Chopped the onion and cored and seeded the peppers before chopping them pretty fine. I cut up the whole bunch of cilantro with some kitchen shears.  It didn't seem tomatoey enough so I stirred in two small cans of tomato paste, a cup or two of water, and about a half cup of vinegar.

Once hot, I filled the hot jars (they were in the canner pot) and once lidded - back into the hot water to boil for 15 minutes. Slosh in a couple of ounces of vinegar to keep the exterior of the jars from clouding.  Oh the satisfying pop-pop-pop when the jars start to cool and seal.  Seven pints is almost a gallon...Looking good!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Runny Jam/Preserves Fix

Every now and then, perfectly followed directions end up being a runny failure instead of set jam.  It may be the humidity, but there is just no rhyme or reason.  This may never happen to you, but if it does, here's the fix:
You can redo up to 8 cups of runny jam at a time. The portions are PER CUP of runny jam.  FYI - a 1.75 oz box of pectin measures out to 6 teaspoons.
1 tablespoon water, 1 1/2 teaspoon powdered pectin, mix and bring to a boil.
Add 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1 cup of jam and bring to a boil over high heat while stirring constantly. Boil 1/2 minute. Skim any foam, fill your jars and reprocess.
I did 8 cups, so I used the following proportions: 8 tablespoons of water, 12 teaspoons of pectin, 16 tablespoons sugar. 
It was a pain in the neck, opening all those perfectly sealed jars and (sigh) dumping jam back into the pot, then washing and reheating all the jars.  I had to buy new lids, as the seals are a one-time thing. And I had to buy four more packets of Sure Jell.  NOW my jam is perfect.  It was so good syrupy, I kept a couple of half pint jars to use as pancake or ice cream syrup.  Yummy!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Strawberry Preserves

Plant City (near Tampa) is the strawberry growing mecca of Florida and the fruit is at their peak in early March.  Yesterday I got the great news that our house is under contract and we will be moving to Jacksonville and away from Apopka in Central Florida with the most wonderful fruit stand on earth, Maters & Taters Produce, who always gets hundreds of flats of Plant City Goodness.  Here is their FaceBook page.

I watched this video by Bobby Hughes with HP Firearms on how to make and can strawberry preserves.
It is exactly the recipe I was looking for!  For those of you that don't want to watch a 20 minute video, Pioneer Woman has a two-part instructional, but I prefer Bobby's recipe (add PW's pat of butter though). I hull my fruit with a knife, but I prefer to do PW's style of mashing the strawberries with a potato masher, but not as finely) instead of Bobby's cutting into chunks, which seems too much like work to me.
Pioneer Part I - Making strawberry jam/preserves and Pioneer Part II - canning
10 cups diced or mashed strawberries (4 lbs)
9 3/4 cups sugar (4 lbs)
9 T Ball brand pectin (1/2 C + 1 T)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 T butter
3/8 cup water (that's 1/4 C + a half of 1/4 C)
12 half-pint jars, lids, bands
1 Canning pot of water
2 T vinegar

  • Start heating canning pot of water with 12 half pint jars standing upright and with just enough to cover the rims of the jars.  Bring to almost a boil while you make the preserves.
  • Put strawberries in a large pot with heat on 6 (medium).
  • Add: water, lemon juice, and pectin (half at a time, stirring it in well)
  • Add a pat of butter so you won't end up with a big pile of foam.
  • Bring heat up to 8 to boil.  
  • Reduce heat  to 6 and slowly stir in the sugar.  It will start to thicken and darken.
  • Take heat back to 8 and stir every 30 seconds or so to keep sugar from sticking to bottom of pot.
  • Bring to a boil and boil hard for 1 minute.
  • Remove from heat and stir for 3 minutes, then let it rest
  • Skim off foam with a teaspoon. (It's great on toast!)
  • Pour a jar of boiling water over lids and rims.
  • Reduce water heat and remove half of the jars to a towel near the stove.
  • Add 2 T vinegar to the water so the jars won't come out cloudy.
  • Ladle strawberry and juice into the jars, leaving 1/4 to 1/2 inch headroom
  • Clean jar rims well (sticky strawberry juice will prohibit the lids from sealing).
  • Place lids and finger tighten (snug but not tight) bands
  • Put the filled jars in the hot water and remove the empties to fill. Once you have all twelve lidded jars in the water, it should just cover the tops by just under an inch of water
  • Bring heat back up to 7-8 so the water will boil.
  • Once the water is at a continuous rolling boil, set your kitchen timer for 10 minutes 
  • Remove from heat and set timer for 5 minutes of "sitting in the water to calm down" time.
  • Finally, gently and upright, move jars to a towel to sit overnight to cool.  After a few minutes of cooling, you should hear the pop-pop-pop of lids sucking in (sealing).  Listen for 12.  You can test the tops by pressing a (cooled jar) lid in the middle and if it pops back, it didn't seal.  Those jars should go in the fridge (and gifted to friends) to be used first.  The rest can sit on a pantry shelf for up to five years, but in reality, they won't last that long!
One flat of strawberries and five pounds of sugar produced just over 10 pints (20 cups) of jam.
My house smells delicious!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, a bit cooler than room temp. (not mushy)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup sweetened sliced strawberries, thawed and drained pretty well
  • Chop strawberries in small food processor until pureed.  I don't have a processor so I mashed mine up with the back of a fork until they were in really tiny pieces.  Mine was not watery, but I didn't do anything to dry it either.  Set aside
  • Beat butter on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce mixer speed and slowly add confectioners' sugar; beat until well combined and looks like thick icing. Add vanilla and the strawberry puree,  and mix on med or low.  They say not to over-mix or frosting will incorporate too much air, but I don't see a problem with that at all!
  • Frosting consistency should be dense and creamy, like ice cream.  It comes out pale pink with wonderful little red strawberry bits throughout.

I baked a box cake mix, strawberry of course, and topped with this icing.  It was just enough for a double layer 8" cake.  This is a birthday gift for my son's new mother-in-law, Sweet Miss Lori.   I didn't get a piece, but a taste of the icing verified what I already knew - - YUM YUM YUM !

Thursday, February 21, 2013

How To Milk An Almond - MYO Almond Milk

Some of my friends drink soy or almond milk, but I've never tasted it.  I don't drink alternative milk because, well, I like what comes from a cow. I don't have any adverse effect (gas) from cow's milk and so I happily chug away a glass a day, a yogurt a day, and sometimes chocolate flavored milk for dessert after dinner.  I drink not only for taste, but to keep these thinning bones healthy.  My bones get thinner as I grow fatter, go figure!

I found this recipe online at the blogspot belonging to, and so just in case their site ever closes down, I copied and pasted it here.  Maybe one day I will have a cup and a half of almonds sitting around and get inspired to try it.

Almond Milk Recipe
yield: about 5 cups almond milk
  • 1.5 cups whole blanched almonds or other whole raw almonds
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1.5 tbsp maple syrup or honey
  • dash cinnamon
  • pinch salt
Other equipment:
  • Blender
  • metal strainer
  • cheesecloth
Soak raw blanched almonds (skins are bitter, plus require more straining). Cover almonds with water, and soak at least 4 hours, or overnight to soften and makes easier to blend.
Place strained, softened almonds in blender.  Add 1.5 cups water.  Blend to a smooth puree about  1-2 minutes.
Add the cinnamon and maple syrup or honey.
Add 2.5 cups water. Blend 2-3 minutes, until completely smooth and frothy.  Adjust the vanilla, cinnamon, and sweetener to taste.  A pinch of salt brings out the other flavors in the milk.
Atrain the almond milk through 3 or 4 layers of cheesecloth over a metal strainer set over a bowl.  Use a spatula to press down on the strainer and move the solids around, to help the almond milk through the cheesecloth.
<i>Gently squeeze solids in cheesecloth to remove excess liquid. You'll be left with really fine almond meal inside the cheesecloth. You can discard it, or you can dry it out in a very low oven and use it in place of almond flour in baking recipes!</i>
Transfer creamy white almond milk to pitcher to chill, keeps 3-4 days in fridge.  Use in place of milk for drinking, on cereal, or in many baking recipes.  Try recipe with raw cashews.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Key Lime Pie - no bake

3/4 c. key lime juice (Nellie & Joe's Famous Key West Key Lime Juice)
8 ounce tub of Cool Whip (Publix brand)
1 - 9 inch pie graham cracker pie crust
14 1/2 oz. can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk 

Combine milk and Cool Whip. 
Add key lime juice. 
Stir well until thickened. 
Pour filling into pie crust and refrigerate overnight.

Photo hijacked from an online picture search
First, I put the straight from the grocery store freezer Publix Brand of Frozen Whipped Topping in the microwave for 20 seconds to soften.  The topping was still a bit frozen, but once I mashed it up with a stiff whisk, it blended easily with the sweetened condensed milk. Adding the key lime juice temporarily thinned the mixture, but it thickened within moments!  It was spoon licking good!!  Although the pie has only been in the fridge for an hour, I could probably slice it now, but will wait for tomorrow.  Or not...

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