Saturday, December 31, 2016

I'm over my fear of venison!

Its the end of 31 days of I will leave you with this. Happy New Year!
For years I was afraid of venison - I always found it had a gamey taste and would bravely try it in different ways - pepperoni, jerky, roasts - they were all awful! But with things being tight these past few years, when a family friend offered us some venison to try (he likes to hunt, but his wife hates venison!), I said sure. That first delivery sat in the freezer for quite a while as I tried to get up the courage to cook it! Truthfully, for the first year of making venison, I always hesitated before trying it, even though I knew it was good - and I wouldn't try the leftovers either - that's how queasy I was.  I looked online for recipes and all I saw were recipes that were tomato based. hubby likes fresh tomatoes fine, but cooked tomatoes make his lips burn, so unless its chili, he avoids them. Even when I make spaghetti I usually have to make a plate of plain so he can butter it and I keep some sausages aside as well. I did notice, however, that a common thread in the recipes was the use of vinegar in the marinade. I thought about that for a while and decided to try marinating the steaks in balsamic vinaigrette. Why? I haven't a clue!!!! I just like balsamic vinaigrette and wondered if it would work - it did!! The venison didn't taste gamey at all! So I came up with my first recipe for venison-

Venison Pepper Steak

 Balsamic Vinaigrette for marinating
1 lb venison steaks
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 red pepper
1 onion
1/3 cup balsamic vinaigrette
 1-2 tbsp. olive oil

1. Marinate steaks in Balsamic vinaigrette for several hours - making sure to turn it at least once. I marinate it all day - the longer the better. It caneven be frozen when you add the marinade. They are so small, they thaw quickly.

2. Put the olive oil in a deep frying pan and start to heat the pan
3. Cut all the peppers lengthwise and cut up the onion into slices as well.

 Add them to the pan and stir fry until the onions and peppers are soft. Remove from pan and put int a large bowl
4. While the vegetables are frying, rinse the marinade off the steaks and slice them length wise.

5. After vegetables have been removed from pan, add venison and stir fry quickly - venison has no fat and can get tough if overcooked. When they turn pink, add 1/3 cup balsamic vinaigrette and cook a minute or two longer.

Remove steaks and marinade from pan and add to the pepper mix.
6. Serve over rice

Nutritional Widget Image
 So there you have it - non gamey venison. I asked our friend Vern who is an amazing hunter and regularly eats venison what he thought of my idea - he laughed and went to his pantry and pulled out....wait for it.....balsamic vinaigrette!!! He gave me some other ideas for cooking it and I have made another recipe that works really well - I take a roast and put it in my crockpot with a ton of barbecue sauce. I cook it all day and then take it out and rinse it and the crockpot. Then I pull it apart with forks to make a pulled venison, put it back into the crockpot , add a little more barbecue sauce, cook it another hour and serve it on buns - the kids never even noticed it was venison - score!!
Our friend who now gives us about 1/3 of the deer he gets every year, found that if he added bacon to the hamburger mix, it made amazing burgers - he gave us some and he was right! Reported it to our friend Vern and yep, he does that too! The big thing with the burgers is they fall apart easily because there is no fat, so we use our George Foreman grill - cooking both sides at once works great and only take a few minutes. My son now hunts and made an amazing jerky - now I need to get his recipe before next year!!!

Moral of the story - If a friend offers you some venison, put aside your fears and give it a whirl - you may be very pleasantly surprised.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Banana-Nut Pound Cake

At my house, Wednesday is the day my husband gets up early to go to a meeting with other pastors to pray for the needs of their friends and congregations, missionaries, our state and our nation. They have been meeting for many years now and although that doesn't seem like a big thing, in reality, it is. These pastors are not all from one denomination. They are Baptist, Congregational, Methodist, Pentecostal, Charismatic, Catholic and Lutheran among others. It is rare to see something like this as many times pastors prefer to stay within their own denomination, or perhaps be part of an ecumenical group that meets once a month to plan larger events. This is simply a group of men, coming together in prayer. In the Northeast, where I live, churches are generally pretty small - nothing like you see in the mid-west of southern states. Our average congregations run about 40-80 people with only 3 churches in this county that have over 150 regular attendees. I remember going to a church in Nashville several years ago when we brought our daughter down there for college and being blown away by the sheer numbers of people. They were looking for 200 Sunday School teachers and we laughed because we didn't even have 200 people!

At any rate, the pastors here rotate their meetings monthly so no one church (or wife!!) has to be responsible for coffee or a meeting place. This month, it is here at our house, so it was the perfect excuse for me to try a new recipe. I found this in Better Homes and Gardens December issue. It was the Grand Prize Winner in their contest and was made by Brenda Orbell. I want to give credit where credit is due, but I also like to bake something first before posting it! I made this with the low fat milk instead of the bourbon because it is not something i either like or keep in the house. The pastors just left and they all raved about it!  Enjoy!


Serves 12

3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 8oz. package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 medium bananas
1/4 cup bourbon OR low fat milk
1 TBSP vanilla
1 cup chopped toasted pecans
Powdered Sugar

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour and 10 inch fluted tube pan; set aside
2. Combine flour, baking powder and salt, ; set aside
3. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined
Gradually add sugar, beating about 7 minutes or until light. Add eggs, one at a time, beating 1 minute after each egg; scraping bowl continually.
4. In a small bowl, combine bananas, vanilla and bourbon (or milk), mash until mixed thoroughly. Alternately add flour mixture and banana mixture to butter mixture; beat on low to medium speed until just combined. Stir in pecans. Spread  evenly in pan.
5. Bake for 80 minutes (mine took closer to 95) until toothpick inserted near the middle comes out clean.
Cool cake in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and continue cooling on rack. Sprinkle with Powdered Sugar when cool. Serve with berries or ice cream, if desired.

This is delicious right out of the oven and freezes like a dream. I can also see adding a cup chocolate chips to this!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Navy Bean Soup

It's been really cold here - lots of snow today so its time for warm and hearty meals.
My husband's friend Spencer used to make the most incredible Navy Bean soup - it was just beans and broth, but I have never been able to duplicate it, and sadly he has passed on, so I needed to find a better one than I had. Enter good old Better Homes and Gardens. This soup was wonderful! I did change a few things and made it in my crockpot. My husband has been eating it for several days now and was sad when I gave some to our neighbor and put the rest in the freezer!
Navy Bean Soup
1 bag dried navy Beans
1-1 1/2 lbs meaty ham bone
1/2 cup ham (left over from ham dinner)
1 1/2 cups sliced celery
2 cups sliced carrots
1/4 tsp onion powder (or 1 onion chopped -I hate onion, so I rarely use it)
3/4 tsp crushed dried thyme
1/4-1/2 tsp salt
1 bay leaf

Put beans and ham bone in crockpot, cover with water
Add the rest of the ingredients except 1/2 cup of ham and cook on slow 6-8 hours.
Remove bone from crockpot and cut up any bits of ham left on bone. Add 1/2 cup cooked ham and serve

That's it! So simple, but so tasty!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Tasty Chicken Piccata

I can't remember which magazine had this recipe, but i do know it is adapted from one in a book called Eat This! Italian. I decided to try it last night after remembering to buy some capers at the dollar store - who buys capers anyway? And what the heck are they? I did taste one and they are tart, so they obviously help the lemon taste. Here's the recipe.  I did change it a bit.

Chicken Piccata
Serves 4

Cooking Spray
8 boneless, skinless chicken cutlets (2 lbs)
1 can chicken broth
4 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 tsp water
1/2 rsp rosemary (or 1 tsp fresh rosemary)
4 lemon slices
3 tbsp drained capers
1 tbsp butter

1. Coat your iron frying pan with cooking spray
2. Season chicken with salt and pepper and cook over high heat till almost cooked through. If you need room, cook 4 at a time and keep them warm while you do the nest 4 - It should take about 2 minutes per side
3. Remove all from pan and add broth to pan over high heat. Stir in dissolved corn starch, and stir till thickened
4. Turn heat down to medium and return cutlets to pan, adding rosemary, capers and lemon slices and cook a few more minutes until done.


5. Once again remove cutlets from pan to serving dish. Then add butter to mixture in the pan and cook once again over high heat until slightly thickened - about a minute or two.
6. Serve cutlets with gravy spooned over them - this makes a really nice presentation.

I served this with asparagus and potato - rice would be nicer still.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

"Crack" Toffee

 I found this recipe wandering around the web and its so easy and uses items you probably keep in your cupboards. I initially made this to give away - but it didn't get into many of the gift packages because we pretty much ate them till there were so few left, I decided to keep them!

1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
40 saltine crackers

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1. Line a 15"x10" jelly roll pan or 12"x17" cookie sheet with foil and spray with a non stick spray
2. Lay out crackers in a flat layer onto the foil
3. measure out your morsels and set them aside
4. Melt brown sugar and butter until a boil is reached. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about 5-6 minutes or until mixture is thickened and sugar is completely dissolved. It should be pretty thick, but thin enough to pour and spread on its own. Pour this mix over the crackers making sure all are coated evenly

5. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until toffee becomes bubbly
6. After removing pan from oven, let it sit for 3-5 minutes and let it begin to set up.
7. Sprinkle on chips, let them spften and melt about 5 minutes and then spread them into an even layer. You can add nuts, cracker crumbs or whatever else you please at this point, but really, it is so good, it doesn't need anything extra.
Let cool or if needed quickly, refrigerate until it hardens.
Break into pieces and serve - it won't last long!!!!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Day 17 -Double Chocolate Nutella Cookie Truffles


 This recipe comes from Betty Crocker and its amazing!


pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker™ double chocolate chunk cookie mix
Vegetable oil, water and egg called for on cookie mix pouch
oz cream cheese, softened
cup Nutella™ hazelnut spread with cocoa
cups dark chocolate chips
tablespoons shortening
tablespoon Betty Crocker™ Decorating Decors chocolate candy sprinkles 


  • 1 Heat oven to 375°F. Make cookies as directed on pouch. Cool completely, at least 15 minutes.
  • 2 In food processor, process half of the cookies to fine crumbs. Remove and set aside; continue to process remaining cookies to fine crumbs. Mix all of cookie crumb mixture in food processor. Add cream cheese and Nutella™ spread. Process until well combined and mixture can be pressed into a ball, 1 to 2 minutes. Shape cookie mixture into 52 (1 1/4-inch) balls; place on cookie sheet lined with waxed paper. Refrigerate 15 minutes.
  • 3 In medium bowl, microwave chocolate chips and shortening uncovered on High 60 to 90 seconds or until mixture can be stirred smooth.
  • 4 Remove half of the cookie balls from refrigerator. Using 2 forks, dip and roll chilled cookie balls, one at a time, in melted chocolate. Return to lined cookie sheet; immediately decorate top with sprinkles. If chocolate has cooled too much, reheat. Refrigerate truffles about 10 minutes or until coating is set. Repeat with second half of cookie balls. Store covered in refrigerator.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Day 16 -Eggnog Biscotti

  • ½ cup Land O'Lakes Butter (1 stick, softened)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup eggnog
  • 2 teaspoons rum or 1 teaspoon rum extract
  • 3¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon rum or ½ tsp rum extract
  • 2-3 tablespoons eggnog
  1. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine butter, sugar, and eggs with a mixer for about 1 minute or until well blended. Mix in eggnog and rum or rum extract, just until blended.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt. Working in small batches, mix the flour mixture into butter mixture until all of the flour mixture has been added to the butter mixture and is well blended.
  4. On a floured cutting board, divide dough in half. Shape each dough half into a long roll, approximately 14" long. Carefully place rolls on prepared baking sheet, about 3" apart from each other. With your hand, press down each roll so that they are approximately ½" high.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Carefully remove from pans and place on cooling racks. Set aside baking sheet, as it will be reused. When biscotti had cooled enough to handle, but is still warm, carefully move them to a cutting board and cut crosswise slices (approximately ½" in size).
  6. Place slices, cut side down, back on original baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn slices over and return to oven to bake for another 10 minutes or until somewhat firm and lightly browned. Transfer to wire racks to completely cool, with tops upwards.
  7.  To drizzle with glaze: with biscotti pieces no more than 1" apart from each other on either the wire rack or your baking sheet, tip tines of a fork into the glaze, allowing some of the excess to drip off. In a back and forth sweeping motion, about 6" above biscotti, allow the glaze to fall in lines on top of the biscotti. Continue until glazed as desired or until all glaze has been used.

  1. In a small bowl, mix together powdered sugar, rum or rum extract and 2 tablespoons eggnog. If needed, add more eggnog to achieve desired consistency (I use 3 tablespoons total of eggnog).

recipe courtesy of gourmet magazine

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Day 15 - White Chocolate Rocky Road Bark

This is a nice change from the typical chocolate barks we see at Christmas

14 oz. white chocolate chips
2 oz pistachios, lightly toasted
2 oz. macadamia nuts
6 oz. multi colored marshmallows
3 oz. fruit flavored multi colored jelly candies - similar to "chuckles", not the spice kind
3 oz dried cranberries

1. Line the base and sides of an 8x8 pan with wax paper and set aside
2. Roughly chop macadamia nuts and jellied candies and place in glass or stainless steel bowl
3. Add toasted pistachios and cranberries and mix gently
4. Place white chocolate chips into microwave safe bowl. Microwave for approx 30 seconds and stir, continue microwaving in 20 second increments, being careful not to burn the chocolate, stirring each time. When there are only a few chips remaining, remove from microwave and stir one last time till all is melted
5. Pour the melted chocolate over the fruit, nut and candy mixture and mix well to make sure all pieces are thoroughly covered in chocolate.
6. Pour into prepared pan and level with a spatula
7. Refrigerate for a few hours 9preferably overnight), then remove from fridge, place on a cutting board (the paper will come right off the candy) and cut into small squares.

These will keep very well for two weeks, then will soften slightly if kept at room temperature.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Day 14 - Peanut Butter Munchies

Here is a nice little cookie -rich chocolate outside and creamy peanut butter fondant inside. Once again thanks to Judith Hannemann for photo
Makes: 32 servings 
Yield: 32 cookies
Prep 40 mins 
Bake 350°F 8 mins  per batch

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degree F. In a medium mixing bowl stir together flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda; set aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl beat together butter, the 1/2 cup granulated sugar, brown sugar, and the 1/4 cup peanut butter with an electric mixer until combined. Add egg, milk, and vanilla; beat well. Beat in as much of the dry ingredients as you can with mixer. Stir in remaining dry ingredients by hand with a wooden spoon. Form chocolate dough into 32 balls about 1-1/4 inches in diameter. Set aside.
3. For peanut butter filling, in a medium mixing bowl combine powdered sugar and the remaining 1/2 cup peanut butter until smooth. Shape mixture into 32 (3/4-inch) balls.
4. On a work surface, slightly flatten a chocolate dough ball and top with a peanut butter ball. Shape the chocolate dough over the peanut butter filling, completely covering the filling. Roll dough into a ball. Repeat with the remaining chocolate dough and peanut butter filling balls.
5. Place balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Lightly flatten with the bottom of a glass dipped in the 2 tablespoons granulated sugar.
6. Bake cookies in preheated oven for 8 minutes or until they are just set and surface is slightly cracked. Let cookies stand for 1 minute. Transfer cookies to wire racks; cool. Makes 32 cookies.

  • Place in layers separated by waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Nutrition Facts
Peanut Butter Munchies
Servings Per Recipe 24

Amount Per Serving

Calories 171
Calories from Fat 73

  • % Daily Value
  • Total Fat 8.5 g
  •     Saturated Fat 3.5 g
  •     Trans Fat 0.2 g
  • Cholesterol 18.1 mg
  • Sodium 67 mg
  • Total Carbs 22.2 g
  •     Dietary Fiber 1.3 g
  •     Sugars 14.2 g
  • Protein 3.5 g

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Day 13 - Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti

I am a huge fan of biscotti - but its always so expensive, so I decided it was time to make my own. This is how they turned out - i am  thinking of maybe dipping them in chocolate for the holidays. In a few days I will be making eggnog biscotti and will share those with you as well.

  • 1/4 cup light olive oil
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 1/2 cups pistachio nuts
Add all ingredients to list

   Prep 25

  Cook 45 m
  Ready In 1 h 20

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).
In a large bowl, mix together oil and sugar until well blended. Mix in the vanilla and almond extracts, then beat in the eggs. Combine flour, salt, and baking powder; gradually stir into egg mixture. Mix in cranberries and nuts by hand.
Divide dough in half. Form two logs (12x2 inches) on a cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. Dough may be sticky; wet hands with cool water to handle dough more easily.
Bake for 35 minutes in the preheated oven, or until logs are light brown. Remove from oven, and set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Reduce oven heat to 275 degrees F (135 degrees C).
Cut logs on diagonal into 3/4 inch thick slices. Lay on sides on parchment covered cookie sheet. Bake approximately 8 to 10 minutes, or until dry; cool.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Day 12 -Lacy Brandy Snaps


  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons brandy
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 4 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1-3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • Grated chocolate, optional


  1. In a small saucepan, combine the butter, sugar and corn syrup. Cook and stir over medium heat until butter is melted. Remove from the heat. Stir in the flour, brandy and ginger.
  2. Drop by teaspoonfuls, three at a time, 3 in. apart onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 7-8 minutes or until golden brown.
  3. Cool for 30-45 seconds. Working quickly, loosen each cookie and curl around a thick wooden spoon handle. (If cookies become to cool to shape, return to oven for 1 minute to soften.) Remove to wire rack to cool completely. 
  4. For filling, in a large bowl, beat cream until it begins to thicken. Add confectioners' sugar and brandy; beat until stiff peaks form. Just before serving, pipe cream mixture into cookies. Sprinkle ends with chocolate if desired. Yield: 4 dozen.
  5. Unfilled snaps will hold in the refrigerator for 2 -3 days in an airtight container
Optional filling:
Eggnog Whipped Cream
Pour cream into chilled bowl (also good if you put the beaters in y our freezer for a few minutes)
and mix on high for about 2 minutes when all cream will be fluffy. Beat in the sugar until it has stiff peaks.  Slowly add the extracts and nutmeg one at a time making sure there are stiff peaks before you add the next ingredient. Using a star tip for your pastry bag, slowly fill brandy snaps. You can leave ends plain or use chocolate sprinkles on them.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Day 11 - Cinnamon Hazlenut Meltaways

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, cut into small pieces
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1 cup ground hazelnuts
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • For rolling cookies:
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper (if you don’t have parchment paper, ungreased cookie sheets work fine, too).
Using a stand mixer, or a large bowl and electric beater, cream the butter on low speed until it is smooth and slightly fluffy. (Or, if you’ve got strong arms, you can use a heavy spoon or old-fashioned rotary beater!)
Add the flour, 1/2 cup of confectioners' sugar, ground nuts, cinnamon, salt and vanilla extract.
Beat on medium speed until the ingredients are well blended and the mixture resembles sand.
Working with about a tablespoon of the cookie mixture at a time, gently press the dough into walnut-sized balls. Place them about an inch apart on the cookie sheets. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the cookies are very lightly browned.

Transfer the cookie sheets to a cooling rack and allow the cookies to cool slightly. In the meantime, sift the 2 cups of confectioners' sugar and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon together into a medium bowl. Set a cooling rack over a piece of parchment or wax paper (this will prevent a sugary mess while the cookies finish cooling), or simply lay a large piece of parchment or wax paper on a flat surface.
When the cookies are still warm, but comfortable to the touch, drop them a few at a time into the confectioners' sugar and cinnamon mixture, and roll them around until they are coated. Place the sugar-coated cookies onto the cooling rack or parchment paper-lined surface, and allow them to cool completely.
(Tip: Take care not to crowd or stack the cookies before they’ve cooled, or some of the cookies will lose globs of warm sugar to their neighbors.)
Cooled cookies may be stored at room temperature, in an airtight container, for up to two weeks, or in the freezer, well-wrapped in foil, for up to two months. In both cases, separate layers of stacked cookies with parchment or wax paper.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Day 10 - Chocolate Hazlenut and Caramel Thumbprints

 Chocolate Hazelnut and Caramel Thumbprints

 Yield: about 36 cookies

Prep 40 mins Chill 1 hr Bake 350°F 10 mins  per batch

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup finely chopped hazelnuts (filberts)
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • 14 vanilla caramels, unwrapped
  • 3 tablespoons whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate pieces
  • 1 teaspoon shortening
  • Toasted whole hazelnuts (about 36)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees 
1. In a small bowl combine flour and cocoa powder; set aside. In a medium bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar and salt; beat until combined, scraping bowl occasionally. Beat in egg yolk, milk, and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour mixture as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour mixture. Cover; chill for 1 hour.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two cookie sheets; set aside. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place the 1 cup hazelnuts on a sheet of waxed paper. Dip balls in egg white and roll in hazelnuts. Place 1 inch apart on prepared cookie sheets. Using your thumb, make an indentation in the center of each cookie. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are firm.
3. Meanwhile, for filling, in a small saucepan cook caramels and cream over low heat until caramels are melted and the mixture is smooth, stirring frequently.
4. Immediately after removing cookies from the oven, use the rounded side of a 1-teaspoon measuring spoon to press down the center of each cookie. Transfer to wire racks; cool. Spoon about 1 teaspoon filling into the center of each cookie.
5. In a small microwave-safe bowl combine chocolate pieces and shortening. Microwave on 100 percent power (high) for 30 to 45 seconds or until softened; stir until smooth. Place a small mound of chocolate on top of each cookie. Top with a whole hazelnut. Let stand until chocolate is set.
Nutritional Information
Chocolate, Hazelnut and Caramel Thumbprints
Servings Per Recipe: 18
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 208
  • Total Fat: 11.3 g
  •     Saturated Fat: 4.8 g
  •     Trans Fat: 0.2 g
  • Cholesterol: 24.7 mg
  • Sodium: 129.1 mg
  • Total Carbs: 24.7 g
  •     Dietary Fiber: 1.4 g
  •     Sugars: 16.5 g
  • Protein: 3.2 g
The following items or measurements are not included:
  • 1 teaspoon • shortening
  • whole • Toasted hazelnuts

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Day 9 - Two Tone Cookies

Today I am going to share some 2 Tone cookies with you - As you can see from the picture for the photography.
above, I wasn't super successful in the decorating portion. The original recipe said to do the white chocolate frosting first on all of them, then the cinnamon. Well, by the time I started the cinnamon, most of the white chocolate had already dried and I was unable to make the marbling. My recipe will reflect the changes needed. Thanks to Judith Hannemann

Makes: 14 servings Yield: about 14 cookies
Prep 35 mins Chill 1 hr Bake 375°F 8 mins  per batch

Two-Tone Cinnamon Cookies
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 3 ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 recipe Cinnamon Glaze (see recipe below)
  • 1 recipe White Glaze (see recipe below)
  • Directions
1. In a large bowl, combine butter and cream cheese. Beat with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add powdered sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Beat until combined, scraping bowl occasionally. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour. Cover and chill about 1 hour or until dough is easy to handle.
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough until 1/4 inch thick. Using a fluted round 3-1/2-inch cookie cutter, cut out dough. Place cutouts 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
3. Bake in the preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are very lightly browned. Cool on cookie sheet for 1 minute. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; cool.

4. Fill a small resealable plastic bag with Cinnamon Glaze; snip off one small corner. Set aside. Spoon White Glaze over tops of cookies, spreading almost to the edges. Do only a few cookies at a time, then adding cinnamon glaze over top and running your knife thru it lightly to marble the two colors. This will ensure all  your cookies will look uniform in their marbling. Place cookies on a wire rack set over waxed paper.  Let stand until glazes are set. Makes about 14 cookies.
  • Place cookies in a single layer in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
Cinnamon Glaze
  • 1 cup cinnamon-flavor pieces, bittersweet chocolate pieces, or semisweet chocolate pieces
  • 2 teaspoons shortening
1. In a small saucepan, combine cinnamon-flavor pieces and shortening. Cook and stir over low heat until melted.

White Glaze
  • 1 cup white baking pieces
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
1. In a small saucepan, combine white baking pieces and shortening. Cook and stir over low heat until melted.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Christmas Cookies Day 8 - Crack Toffee

I found this recipe wandering around the web and its so easy and uses items you probably keep in your cupboards. I initially made this to give away - but it didn't get into many of the gift packages because we pretty much ate them till there were so few left, I decided to keep them!

1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
40 saltine crackers

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1. Line a 15"x10" jelly roll pan or 12"x17" cookie sheet with foil and spray with a non stick spray
2. Lay out crackers in a flat layer onto the foil
3. measure out your morsels and set them aside
4. Melt brown sugar and butter until a boil is reached. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about 5-6 minutes or until mixture is thickened and sugar is completely dissolved. It should be pretty thick, but thin enough to pour and spread on its own. Pour this mix over the crackers making sure all are coated evenly

5. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until toffee becomes bubbly
6. After removing pan from oven, let it sit for 3-5 minutes and let it begin to set up.
7. Sprinkle on chips, let them spften and melt about 5 minutes and then spread them into an even layer. You can add nuts, cracker crumbs or whatever else you please at this point, but really, it is so good, it doesn't need anything extra.
Let cool or if needed quickly, refrigerate until it hardens.
Break into pieces and serve - it won't last long!!!!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Christmas Cookies Day 7 -Coconut Lime Bars

These cookies are just a breath of heaven - the touch of lime with the coconut tastes amazing, and the chocolate enhances both flavors.

Makes 24 bars
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts
1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated lime zest
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extraact
1 package sweetened shredded coconnut
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 tbsp crisco

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Butter a 9 inch square pan and line with parchment paper, leaving a 2 inch overhang on two sides

In a large bowl, whisk butter, brown sugar and 1/3 of the granulated sugar
Add 1 of the eggs, whisk until smooth. Stir in 1 cup of flour, salt, nuts and lime zest.
Spread batter in pan and bake until top is set and very lightly golden, about 15-18 minutes

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together 2/3 cup of granulated sugar, 2 eggs and vanilla. Reserve 1/2 cup of the coconut, stir in remaining coconut and 1 cup flour into egg mixture. Gently spread over base,; top with reserved coconut.

Bake until golden and toothpick inserted comes out with moist crumbs attached, 25 -30 minutes.
Let cool completely on a wire rack. Using parchment overhang, lift bars from pan and cut into 24 bars.

In a double boiler, heat crisco and chocolate chips till smooth. Gently dip top of the bars into chocolate and replace on wire rack to cool.

Store in an airtight container up to 1 week. These also freeze well.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Christmas Cookies Day 6 - Linzer Torte

 These cookies take a bit of work - sometimes I wait till the last minutes because I am a little lazy, but they are so worth it!

  • 2/3  cup  almonds
  • 1/2  cup  packed light brown sugar
  • 2 1/2  cups  all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled, plus more for the work surface
  • 1/2  teaspoon  baking powder
  • 1/2  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  ground cinnamon
  • 1  cup  (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1  large egg
  • 1  teaspoon  pure vanilla extract
  • 1  tablespoon  confectioners’ sugar
  • 1  12-ounce jar raspberry jam 

1. Heat oven to 350° F. Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and toast, tossing occasionally, until fragrant, 6 to 8 minutes; let cool.
2. In a food processor, process the almonds and ¼ cup of the brown sugar until the almonds are finely ground.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
4. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and the remaining ¼ cup brown sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and gradually add the almond mixture, then the flour mixture, mixing until just combined (do not overmix).
5. Divide the dough in half, shape into two disks, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, at least 3 hours.
6. Heat oven to 350° F. On a lightly-floured surface, roll out each piece of dough to a ⅛-inch thickness. Using a 2- to 2 ½-inch round cookie cutter, cut the dough into rounds and place on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them 1 inch apart. Using a ¾- to 1-inch round cookie cutter, cut out the centers from half of the cookies. Re-roll and cut the scraps as necessary.
7. Bake, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, until the edges are golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool slightly on the baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes 36 cookies
Hands-On Time: 1hr 00m
Total Time: 5hr 00m

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Christmas Cookies Day 5 - Peppermint Bark

I  can't even tell you how many people commented on this last year when I gave out my gift baskets and asked if I would be making again this year. I actually got the idea last year after a shopping trip to Michaels. I saw several kits for making peppermint bark inside snow flakes, candy canes etc - and they were pricey. I thought, there really has to be a cheaper way of doing this -and there is! Thanks again Judith Hannemann for the photo.

Peppermint Bark

Wiltons Dark Chocolate Candy Melts
Wiltons Peppermint Burst Candy Melts
Crushed Candy Cane - this comes in a bag, but you could also use candy canes you crush yourself - 5 or 6 should do it.

Heat the chocolate melts in your microwave in a microwavable bowl on medium for about 30 seconds, stir and continue to heat in 30 second intervals, with stirring, until almost melted. Remove and stir until all is melted. Be careful you don't allow this to burn. If you are not sure how hot your microwave gets, then do 20 seconds each time - or adjust to what works best for your microwave. All microwaves are not the same!

Pout the melted chocolate into a 15x12 jelly roll pan and spread to the edges. While it is cooling, microwave the peppermint melts in the same manner as the chocolates. Making sure the first layer is at least set, pour the peppermint layer onto it and cover it completely.

Sprinkle the crushed candy canes across the top and set aside to cool and set.

When completely cooled, break apart for medium pieces of bark.

That's it - SO simple and SO tasty!

IF you want to be really clever, you can get a set of Christmas cookie cutters and place them over wax paper.. Take the melted chocolate and  put into a decorating bag and pipe into the molds. follow it with the peppermint and crushed candy canes.

Tip - when you are using decorating bags, instead of going crazy trying to handle the bag and getting the melted chocolate into it by yourself, take a glass from your cupboard and put the bag over it
then pour your melted chocolate in, take off cup and snip the bag!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Christmas Cookies Day 4 - Chocolate Blooms with Raspberry Ganache

    So, I took a day off to Christmas shopping with my friend Sonya - I introduced her to my favorite store - Hobby Lobby and she had a great old time jumping up and down with glee as she found so many fun things to buy. I admit I bought a few things too! The only bad thing was I left too early and got back too late to post a blog, but I should be around the next few days to keep on track. Thanks again to for the photo

I do want to make note that when  I am baking for Christmas I start baking in early December and freeze the cookies after they have cooled until I am finished. I then take them out, unfreeze them and make up my gift trays. There is no way you can bake all your cookies last minute as you would surely either run out of time or become frantic as you try to juggle baking and Christmas shopping, preparations etc., so be wise with your time!

I have to say these cookies were one of my favorites. Hope you like them!


1/2 cup shortening
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup dutch processed cocoa powder
1 cup miniature semi sweet chocolate pieces
3/4 cup finely chopped almonds (optional)
fresh small raspberries (optional)

Raspberry Ganache
6 oz. chopped (70% cocoa) dark chocolate
1/3 cup whipping cream
1 tsp seedless raspberry jam
1 Tbsp. raspberry liqueur (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, beat shortening and butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar, baking powder, and salt; beat until combined. Beat in egg and vanilla; beat until combined.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour and cocoa powder. Beat as much of the flour mixture into the butter mixture as you can with mixer. Stir in any remaining flour mixture. Stir in chocolate pieces. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. If desired, roll balls in chopped almonds. Place balls 1-1/2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Press thumb into the center of each ball to make an indent.

3. Bake in the preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are set. Immediately use the rounded side of a 1-teaspoon measure to press down the center of each cookie. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool. Spoon Raspberry Ganache into center of each cookie. Let stand 1-1/2 to 2 hours or chill about 15 minutes or until set. If desired, garnish each cookie with a fresh raspberry

For Raspberry Ganache:

1. In a small microwave-safe bowl combine chopped (70 percent cocoa) dark chocolate, whipping cream, and jam, if desired. Microwave on 100 percent power (high) for 1 minute. Stir until melted. If desired, add 1 tablespoon raspberry liqueur. Stir until smooth. Let stand until slightly thickened (about 15 minutes). Makes 1 cup.
  Make sure you let the ganache set before you serve or store.•    Layer cookies between waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw cookies, if frozen, before serving. You can store filled cookies in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days

Monday, December 12, 2016

Christmas Cookies Day 3 - Double Chocolate Orange Cookies

I was daydreaming my way through Walmart a few weeks ago, thinking about cookies and what to make, and i came across this area with all kinds of M&M's - some I had seen before, some were new to me  - what caught my eye were orange and cherry cordial. I thought, oh I could make something really nice with those, so I bought them. The first time I tried this recipe, I went a little overboard with the chocolate chunks and M&M's, so I made a second batch bringing down the amount and they turned out perfect. Here is the recipe. Thanks again to Judith Hannemann,   for the photo


  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp pure vanilla flavoring
  • 1/2 tsp orange extract
  • 4 ounces semi sweet chocolate chunks
  • 3/4 cup orange flavored M&M's 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1. Heat the semi sweet chocolate chips and butter in a microwave safe bowl in 20 second increments,
 stirring between each until almost melted - do not overheat or it will burn. When it is almost all melted
take it out and stir till all of it is melted in. In small bowl mix together flour, baking powder and salt.

2.In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla on high speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed
 to low; beat in melted chocolate. Mix in flour mixture until just combined. Stir in chocolate chunks.

3.  Drop heaping tablespoons of dough 2 to 3 inches apart onto baking sheets. Bake, rotating sheets
 halfway through, until cookies are shiny and crackly yet soft in centers, 12 to 15 minutes.
 Cool on baking sheets 10 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

  • Prep Time 20 minutes
  • Total Time 45 minutes
  • Yield Makes 2 dozen

Nutritional Information
Double Chocolate Orange Cookies
Servings Per Recipe: 12
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 339
  • Total Fat: 16.9 g
  • Saturated Fat: 9.6 g
  • Trans Fat: 0.2 g
  • Cholesterol: 42.5 mg
  • Sodium: 150.3 mg
  • Total Carbs: 46.2 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 2.4 g
  • Sugars: 34.1 g
  • Protein: 3.7 g