Thursday, November 29, 2012

Cinnamon Stick Santa

A gift from the kitchen ~ combining giant cinnamon sticks with crafting. 

Cinnamon Stick Santa

1 - 12" cinnamon stick
Red acrylic paint
Flesh colored acrylic paint
Black acrylic paint
Snow paint
1 - 1/4" rounded wood plug
2 1/2" wire
4" white doll hair
E600 glue

Wrap wire around a wood dowel or other circle that you can slip it off - twist but leave 1/2 free.  Dip in glue and insert in top of curls in the cinnamon stick.  Paint a 1 1/2" strip of red at top of stick and a 1 1/2" strip of flesh color beneath it and paint the wood plug at the same time.  When dry, use a toothpick to apply a 1/8" strip of snow paint between the red and flesh paints.  Dip the wood end of your paint brush in black paint and make the two eyes.  Attach the nose (wood plug) with glue and allow to dry completely or else it will try to move on you while your applying the doll hair for the mustache/beard.  To apply the hair, just bend in half and attach with a generous amount of glue.  When dry, fluff out.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Candy

This recipe was given to me by a co-worker awhile back.  It was so incredibly easy to make that it's another one of my yearly Christmas gift giving candies.

Chocolate Peanut Candy

1 pound chocolate almond bark
lightly roasted peanuts
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 tbsp canola oil

Melt chocolate almond bark, peanut butter and canola oil in a bowl in the microwave.  Spoon over 8 peanut halves in a petit four baking cup.  Allow to harden approximately 1 hour.  Makes 60.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Taco Pasta Hotdish

Winters in the upper Midwest mean hotdish.  Well, I'll be honest...this did not start out to be a hotdish.  It started out to be a taco pizza but it was lacking a crunch factor.  I have no "junk food" in the house and after a glance outside to reconfirm that it is dark and still was time for plan b.  I needed to mix up a quick batch of taco seasoning from here ~ and I was ready to continue on with dinner.

Taco Pasta Hotdish

1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp taco seasoning
1 cup beef broth
1 -  8 ounce can tomato sauce
4 oz cream cheese
3 cups cooked small pasta shells
1 cup Marble Jack shredded cheese
sour cream (optional)

Brown hamburger.  When almost cooked through, add in onions and garlic.  When onions are translucent, add in beef broth, tomato sauce and cream cheese.  Stir until cream cheese has blended into sauce.  Pour over cooked pasta in a greased casserole dish and stir.  Place in oven at 350° for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and top with cheese.  Bake for another 15 minutes.  Serve with sour cream if desired.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Lavender Sugar Scrub

This is one of the fun items that I'm making to give away as a Christmas gift this year.  If you're one of the people on my holiday gift list ~ continuing to read is a way to get on Santa's naughty list.  Just sayin'.  I combined two of my favorite essential oils and the smell is heavenly.

Lavender Sugar Scrub

3 cups sugar
3/4 cup sweet almond oil
12 drops lavender essential oil
5 drops lemon essential oil

Place all the ingredients in a medium sized bowl and stir the oil and scent into the sugar.  This makes enough for 2 pint sized canning jars.  Decorate the jars and you're ready to give out as gifts.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cupcakes

I have always loved cinnamon coffee cake.  My mom would make Aunt Jemima coffee cakes when we found them in the grocery store and I liked their little pans that they give you to bake them in.  This was my almost adult version of easy bake oven (which Santa never brought me) goodies.  It was a tossup to what was my favorite part ~ the streusel or squishing the egg and milk in the plastic bag to mix the dough.  Sometimes vacations would be a good time to check out a grocery store to see if they carried the line.  My mom found them in southern Minnesota and Yuma, Arizona.   Since I do not live in either of those areas, I had to create my own coffee cakes.

Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cupcakes

1/4 cup room temperature unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon


1/4 cup cold unsalted butter
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt

In a small bowl, use a pastry blender to combine the cold butter, dark brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt.  Mix until combined and then set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, cream together softened butter and sugar.  Mix in egg, vanilla and buttermilk.  Gradually mix in dry ingredients.  Scoop into large muffin cups.  If using a traditional ice cream scoop - it's 1 1/2 scoops for each cup.  For a regular sized cup, 3/4 of a scoop.  For large cups, bake at 350° for 22 minutes.  Regular size are probably around 15 minutes.  

Saturday, November 24, 2012


Normally this is the first holiday candy that I make because it's so easy to make and freezes so well that it's easy to grab a package to take to work for an office pick-me-up, send in a Christmas package that I'm mailing out or put in a food gift bag.  The picture I took is of the full pan.  I cut this down into 8 equal pieces and those 8 are cut down into 24 smaller pieces.


Put in a 2 quart saucepan ~

3 cups sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
3/4 cup butter

Stir and bring to a boil until the temperature on a candy thermometer reaches 235° (soft-ball stage).  

Remove from heat and stir in ~

7 oz marshmallow creme
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup walnut pieces

Pour into a wax paper lined jelly roll pan and let cool completely.

When cool, put into smaller pieces (see above).  I wrap first in a package of wax paper and then in aluminum foil.  

Friday, November 23, 2012

Cran-Raspberry Rock Candy

I'm starting a countdown to Christmas today.  Expect to see posts on my holiday baking, crafts, decorating and gifts to make and give.  Last night as the snow was falling, I made rock candy.  I haven't made any since I was a teenager so it was a fun journey down memory lane and with the candy thermometer that my mom willingly sent packing with me.  The only difference between now and then is the many new flavors.   The next batch will be Chocolate Hazelnut.

Cran-Raspberry Rock Candy

2 cups sugar
2/3 cups light corn syrup
3/4 cup water
1 tsp LorAnn Cran-Raspberry flavoring
2 drops red food coloring
1 tbsp powdered sugar

Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and sift the powdered sugar evenly over it.  In a 2 quart saucepan, combine sugar, light corn syrup and water.  Stir until sugar in combined and then do not stir again.  Heat to 300° and remove from heat.  Drop in food coloring and flavoring.  Stir and pour onto the cookie sheet.  Let cool and harden.  After an hour you can take a clean screwdriver and pound to crack candy down to small pieces.  

The powdered sugar will keep the candy pieces from sticking together.  Store in an air-tight container. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Cranberries & Apples

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  I'm starting to work on my dinner tonight by getting the bread ready for stuffing and making these cranberries.  I've always had/made the standard recipe on the bag of cranberries but decided to change it up this year. 

Cranberries & Apples

1 bag (12 oz) cranberries
1 orange, juiced and a little zest (approximately 1/2 cup juice)
1 apple, peeled and diced
brown sugar to taste
1 dash cinnamon

Cook cranberries in orange juice until popped (on their own or with help).  Remove from heat and stir in apples.  Add in brown sugar so it's just sweet enough and cinnamon.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Whiskey Beef Stew

The countdown to Thanksgiving is now on and I'm making meals that in no way resemble the turkey feast.  I came across a package of beef for stew in the freezer as I was rearranging items to make room for the bird.  Perfect.  Only the potatoes will be served again and in a different form.   

Whiskey Beef Stew

1# beef for stew
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
salt & freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cups beef broth
1 cup water
1/4 cup onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 1/2 cups carrots, peeled and sliced
1 cup peas
3 tbsp whiskey

Mix flour, paprika, salt and pepper in a small bowl.  Dredge beef in the flour mixture and place in a hot frying pan with olive oil.  Brown and then place in a crock pot with 1 cup beef broth.  Place other tablespoon of olive oil into pan and add in onions and garlic.  Add in second cup of beef broth and whisk in flour left over from dredging.  Pour over meat.  Add in 1 cup of water, stir and cover and cook on medium heat for 1 hour.  After 1 hour, add in diced potatoes and carrots.  A half hour before serving, add in peas and whiskey.  

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Baked Chicken Capellini

A beautiful day here but I have been fending off a cold for the past week so it meant the great indoors, Hallmark Christmas movies and gift wrapping for me today.  I had already done the homemade chicken soup routine one day this week (thank goodness for a well stocked freezer with goodies) and wanted to make a new comfort food for the sniffles.

Baked Chicken Capellini

2 chicken breasts, braised and shredded
8 oz Capellini, cooked al dente and drained
8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp parsley
1 1/2 cups of your favorite pasta sauce
Parmesan cheese

Place capellini at the bottom of a greased 6 x 10 baking dish or a round casserole.  Microwave cream cheese and milk for 30 seconds, stir and add parsley and then spread over capellini.  Top with chicken mixed with pasta sauce.  Bake at 325° for 30 minutes.  Top with Parmesan cheese.

I enjoyed it so much that I went back for seconds.  It is feed a cold and starve a fever right?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Raspberry Brownies with Chambord Icing

Sometimes with the temperatures dip down into the teens, it is necessary to bake a chocolate dessert.  I was looking through the gourmet area of and came across something called raspberry bits.  They were out but would notify me when they came in.  I had never run across these in a local grocery store so I was excited to try them.  They did not disappoint.  I would recommend not putting too many in a dessert but a few just add a surprise burst of raspberry flavor.  

Raspberry Brownies with Chambord Icing

1 stick of butter
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup dark cocoa powder
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder 

1/2 cup raspberry bits

Melt the butter in a large saucepan.  Allow to cool and then add in sugar and beat well.  Add in eggs and vanilla.  Stir in dry ingredients, raspberry bits and then pour into a greased 9 x 9 sqare or round cake pan. 

Bake for 25 minutes at 350°.  Do not overbake.

Chambord Icing

1/2 cup whipping cream
4 ounces mascarpone cheese
1 cup powdered sugar

2 tbsp Chambord

Beat whipping cream until soft peaks form.  Add in Mascarpone and
powdered sugar.  Add in Chambord and ice the brownies.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Cherry Coke BBQ Chicken

I was in the mood for an easy supper dinner after shoveling this morning.  I had 4 chicken breasts and a crock pot as my starting point.  I went down to the pantry and found a bottle of Cherry Coke and I was off and running (ok, it's a figure of speech...the shoveling took out all ambition to run).  I shredded it to use in flour tortillas with a little shredded cheese.

Cherry Coke BBQ Chicken

4 chicken breasts, boneless 
1 cup Cherry Coke
1 cup BBQ sauce
1 tbsp Chili Garlic Sauce

Place chicken breasts and pour Cherry Coke over them.  Cook for 4 hours on low in your crock pot.  Fork shred chicken breasts and add in your favorite bbq sauce and chili garlic sauce.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Hearth Bread

It's a rainy day in the valley, which is better than what is happening to the west of me, so I made a bread recipe that I saw on Pinterest from King Arthur Flour.  I tweaked it ever so slightly but was happy with the results.

Hearth Bread

1 tbsp bread machine yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp

2 cups warm water
5 - 5 1/2 cups flour
1 tbsp cornmeal

Mix yeast, sugar, salt and warm water together in a large bowl.  Gradually stir in 5 cups of flour, one cup at a time, with a wooden spoon.  Turn out onto floured surface and knead for 5 minutes.  Clean out bowl and coat inside with olive oil and put dough back in, cover and let rise until doubled.  
When doubled, punch down, cut dough in half and shape into an long oblong shape.  Lightly grease a baking sheet with olive oil and sprinkle with the cornmeal.  Place each dough side by side on the sheet.  Let rise 10 minutes and then make 3 slices 1/4" deep on each loaf and baste with cold water.
Bake at 400° for approximately 30 minutes.

Here's the original recipe ~

Update ~ day two of this's fine for toast or as I did - cut it up for croutons and freeze it for my Thanksgiving turkey stuffing.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Chicken Fried Rice

As I written before, I have fired my Chinese delivery restaurant.  It was well deserved - a mild case of food poisoning, finding a washer in my food and keeping an uninsured driver employed after they hit a friends car.  So I found myself craving Chinese food yesterday and considering my options from my refrigerator/freezer/pantry, I was easily able to put together Chicken fried rice.  I was so happy with this recipe that I'll have to try cream cheese wontons next.  

Chicken Fried Rice

3 chicken breasts, cut in strips
3 cups rice, preferably cooked the day before but 4 hours before works too
1 large egg, beaten
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup carrots, diced
1/2 cup peas
1/4 cup onions, diced
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp Chili garlic sauce

Cook chicken strips in 3 tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan or wok.  When cooked, remove from pan and put in carrots and cook until tender.  Add in peas, onions and garlic and cook for a couple minutes.  Pour beaten egg on top and stir until cooked.  Add chicken back in, rice and sauces and mix together.  Serve when the chicken and rice are heated.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Butterfinger Cookies

I'm back with another recipe that are still baking in the oven.  This cookie is a great way to use up leftover Halloween candy.  Ignore the fact that it's potentially more calories but the pumpkin dish will be empty so you can put it away until next year.  I used my favorite toll house cookie recipe and substituted Butterfinger candy that I put through the food processor instead of chocolate chips.

Butterfinger Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 1/4 cups flour
10 mini Butterfinger candy bars (approximately 1 cup), ground up

Cream together butter and sugars.  Add in eggs and vanilla.  Gradually add in flour, baking soda and salt.  Gently fold in ground Butterfinger candy.

Bake at 325° for approximately 12 minutes.

Well I found a live Alice Cooper concert stream so I'm done in the kitchen for a little while.  Enjoy the remainder of your weekend ~

Pumpkin Chip Muffins

I was handed this note last week as a gentle reminder from my youngest food taster that I've been slacking lately bringing in goodies to work and sending treats home with Haley's mom for her to sample.  Message received Haley and this is the first of two recipes that I'm making in my kitchen today for you to try.

Pumpkin Chip Muffins

1 cup pumpkin
1/4 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup vanilla chips + 1 tsp flour

Mix together pumpkin, oil, eggs and vanilla.  Cream in sugars and then add in remainder of dry ingredients.  Coat vanilla chips with flour before gently folding them in the batter.  This will prevent them from all sinking to the bottom.  Bake at 325°.  I made mini muffins so the time was approximately 10 minutes ~ adjust accordingly to the size of muffin tin you use.  

Hope you enjoy these Haley!  Back to the kitchen to create more recipes and switch my music since my Stones set on my iPod seems to have just run out.