Christmas Cookies 2014

Starting at the wreath and going around to the right: spritz wreath, Hungarian love letters, maid of honor, strawberry marzipan, Austrian nut butter, spritz tree, cream wafer snowman, black walnut fudge, and a sugar cookie star in the center.  Not pictured:  big soft ginger cookies with lemon cream frosting. 

How to Get Rid of Leftover Cake

The place is loaded with all sorts of Christmas goodies and an birthday cake on top of that.  So when a invite to a small get together comes in with a bring the treat assignment one  thinks, "perfect I can get rid of this cake."  And then you turn to look at it and see this:
But then it turns into this: 
Cake Balls or Cake Pops From Leftover Cake
Or What To Do With Leftover Cake
Make about 40 balls from half of a cake 

Half of a leftover cake ( I think I said that already)
6 oz chocolate chips, I used Andes Baking Chips
1 1/2 T. shortening or coconut oil
Some kind of embellishment

Scrap the frosting off of the top and sides of the cake.   Leave the frosting in the middle.  Put the remaining cake in a bowl and mash it all together.  I used my hands.  Form into 1-inch balls.  Place on a cookie sheet, tray or plate lined with parchment or waxed paper.  Place in the refrigerator or freezer for a bit to firm up.  Meanwhile place the chips and shortening or coconut oil in a heat proof bowl.  Place over simmering water to melt the chocolate.  Mix the melted chips and oil.  Take the chilled balls out of the fridge or freezer.  Since they are slightly firm and will hold their shape better, fix any misshaped ones.  Using 2 spoons, dip them one at a time in the melted chocolate and roll them around a couple of times.  Lift out and drain just a bit.  Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or waxed paper.  If adding a sprinkle, do so while the chocolate is still wet.  Once the cookie sheet is full, you can place in the fridge to quicken the hardening process.  

I doubled the chocolate and shortening.  I don't think 6 oz is enough.

Our Christmas Tree

We had a Concolor fir dying in our yard so I put it to good use.  We chopped it down and it's now the Christmas tree.  It was dead 6 feet on the top and we also had to take off a lot of the bottom.  It is basically the middle of the tree.  My daughter described it as a Charlie Brown tree.  On Crack.  I'm so mad at myself for not thinking of this idea earlier since we cut down 4 other pines in previous years.  Beware all ye evergreens.  

Christmas Tree Song

Uh Christmas tree, 
Er Christmas tree,
You really need some branches.
Um Christmas tree,
Uh Christmas tree,
You really need some branches.
Not only are they scraggly,
They're also much too wide, you see.
Uh Christmas tree,
Er Christmas tree,
You really need some branches. 

Fruit Juice Glogg

Fruit-Juice Glogg
Saft Glogg—Sweden

From SH

1 medium orange
1 qt. apple cider
2 cups white grape juice or currant juice
¼ cup sugar

1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
8 whole cloves
⅔ cup raisins
⅔ cup slivered blanched almonds

Using a vegetable peeler, cut colored portion from orange in a single spiral. Reserve orange for another purpose.

In a large pot, combine orange peel and remaining ingredients. Let stand 4 hours. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low; simmer 30 minutes.

Serve hot or cold in punch cups, including some raisins and almonds in each serving.

Makes 12 servings.

Old Tins

Update old tins by spray painting the lid and/or base with chalkboard spray paint.  With any spray paint for that matter.  

Big Soft Ginger Cookies

Big Soft Ginger Cookies
From Country Home 1999
Makes 2-2 1/2 dozen

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons white sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  

In a medium bowl combine the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed beat butter for 30 seconds.  Beat in the 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy.  Add egg and molasses; beat well.  Stir flour mixture into egg mixture. 

Shape dough into 1 1/2-inch size balls, using about 1 heaping tablespoon of dough for each.  Roll balls in the 2 tablespoons of sugar to coat. Place balls 2 1/2-inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes or until light brown and still puffed.  (Do not overbake.)  Cool cookies on cookie sheet for 2 minutes.  Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.   

Sometimes I frost them with a lemon frosting. My family loves these. Frosting: 2 c. powdered sugar, 1/2 c. butter, softened, 3 T lemon juice

With 2 dozen cookies: 
1 cookies equals 143 calories, 21.1 g carbohydrates, 9 mg cholesterol, 6 g fat, .04 g fiber, 1.6 g protein, 147 mg sodium.
With 2 1/2 dozen:
1 cookie equals 111 calories, 5 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 19 mg cholesterol, 98 mg sodium, 16 g carbohydrate, trace fiber, 1 g protein.

99 Cent Expired Sugar Cookies Amoung Other Things

Why is the cent key gone on today's keyboards?  I either have to spell it out or type $.99  It used to have it's own key.  Not even a shifted key.  Or I can just type [Option] + [4].  Poor ¢.
Apple Streusel Cookie Tart
From Pillsbury
Serves 8

1 roll (16.5 oz) Pillsbury refrigerated sugar cookies 
4 large baking apples, peeled, cored and very thinly sliced 
1/2 cup granulated sugar 
1 1/2 teaspoons apple pie spice 
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour 
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats 
1/2 cup packed brown sugar 
1/4 cup cold butter, cut into pieces 
1/3 cup slivered almonds, if desired
Sweetened whipped cream, if desired

Heat oven to 375°F. Spray 9-inch round springform pan with cooking spray. Press cookie dough in bottom and 2 inches up side of pan.  

 In large bowl, mix apples, granulated sugar, apple pie spice and 2 tablespoons of the flour. Toss to coat. Arrange mixture in crust. 

In small bowl, mix oats, brown sugar and remaining 2 tablespoons flour. With pastry blender or fork, cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over apples. Top with almonds.  

Serve with a scoop of cinnamon ice cream or a dollop of cinnamon-spiced whipped cream for extra fall flavor.
Cover leftovers with plastic wrap, and use within 3 days.

Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until crust is deep golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool 20 minutes; remove side of pan. Cool 1 hour. Serve with whipped cream.  

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: 1 Serving 

Calories 490
Calories from Fat 150
Total Fat 16g 
Saturated Fat 7g
Trans Fat 3g 
Cholesterol 20mg
Sodium 250mg
Total Carbohydrate 82g 
Dietary Fiber 2g 
Sugars 37g 

Moldy Oranges

My daughter and her family flew 1400 miles a month ago with cut up oranges in her bag.  That's ridiculous.  Sniff.  So proud.  Then there was the time in college she brought home raw potatoes because she didn't want them to go bad.  Grandma was smiling from above.  But I digress.  The inside of the oranges were moldy but the rind was still good. 

Molded Cranberry Sauce  
That's molded not moldy.  Kind of. 
From William-Sonoma
Serves 14 to 18

1 1/4 lb. fresh cranberries
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 tsp. orange zest
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. fresh orange juice
Pinch of salt
1 cup water
1 Tbs. unflavored gelatin

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the cranberries, sugar, orange zest, orange juice, salt and 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens and the cranberries have burst, 25 to 35 minutes. Note: The sauce should measure no more than 3 3/4 cups.

Meanwhile, pour the remaining 2 Tbs. water into a bowl (use a small mixing bowl) and sprinkle with the gelatin. Let stand until the gelatin softens and swells, 5 to 10 minutes. 

Spoon 3/4 cup of the hot juices from the cranberries into the gelatin and whisk until the gelatin has dissolved. If you prefer a sauce with a smoother texture, transfer the remaining cranberry mixture to a food processor and pulse for 2 seconds (10 to 15 times), then proceed as directed.


Pour the gelatin mixture into the cranberry mixture and whisk to combine. Lightly coat the inside of a ceramic cranberry mold with nonstick cooking spray. Pour the cranberry mixture into the prepared mold and let cool to room temperature. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to overnight. 


To unmold, set the mold in a large bowl of warm water (115° to 120°F) so the water reaches almost to the rim of the mold. Let stand for 30 seconds, then remove the mold from the water. Carefully insert a small offset spatula or paring knife along the side of the mold. Gently pull the gelatin away from the mold to release the suction, then remove the spatula. Place a serving platter upside down on top of the mold and invert the platter and mold together. Remove the plug. Gently shake the mold until you hear the gelatin begin to release, then lift off the mold. If the gelatin does not release, replace the plug and return the mold to the warm water for 15 seconds, then repeat the steps as directed above. 

All I had to do was run the mold under warm water for seconds, unplug it and it slid right out.  


Thanksgiving Memories

Every year we enjoy filling this out.  The PDF is below the photo.  Copy the PDF image and paste into a document to print. 

Garden Short 'N Sweet Carrots

Last year I stored my carrots in sand and I wasn't happy with the results.  A lot of them rotted.  Plus you have to wash off all that sand and where are you going to do that in the middle of winter so it doesn't clog your drain?  One mistake I may have made is I washed them before I put them in layers in the sand.  I read that you aren't suppose to wash them but they were caked in mud.  This year I read a comment in a blog by a 71 year old woman who has been gardening her entire life and am going to take her advice. 

I washed the carrots and let them dry outside laid out on a ledge.  It was cold outside so I put them in the sun.  Dry them no more than a couple of hours.  I cut off the greens (green tops will cause rot) and the tails.  I bagged them in Ziploc bags and left the bag open a crack.  I am fortunate to have a root cellar and that is where they are stored.  I hope this year works better than last.

Canned Apple Pie Filling

Canned Apple Pie Filling
Adapted from

 8-9 Quarts: 
Using 5 1/4 quarts of apples might yield closer to 7 quarts 

7 qt. blanched sliced apples 
5 1/2 c. granulated sugar 
1 1/2 c. clear jel A (hot type)
2 1/2 c. cold water 
1 tbsp. cinnamon (optional) 
5 c. apple juice 
1 tsp. nutmeg (optional) 
3/4 c. bottled lemon juice plus extra

Fill a large bowl with cold water and add a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice.  This will keep the cut apples from turning brown.  Or use ascorbic and citric acid mixtures according to manufacturer's instructions.  Wash, peel and core apples. Prepare slices 1/2-inch wide.  Place into lemon water as you go.  

Blanch half the prepared apples at a time for 1 minute in boiling water. While blanching other batches of apples, keep blanched apples in a covered pot so they will stay warm.

Combine sugar, clear jel A and cinnamon in a bowl. Stir together thoroughly. Put water and apple juice in large kettle. Gradually add dry ingredients, stirring constantly. Stir and cook over medium-high heat until mixture thickens and begins to bubble. Add lemon juice. Boil one minute more, stirring constantly.

Drain apple slices and fold into mixture. Fill prepared jars without delay, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Put prepared lids and rings on jars and process immediately in a boiling water bath for 35 minutes after water comes to a boil.

Clear jel A is a modified food starch available. Your local extension service office might be able to tell you where it is available. Do not substitute cornstarch. The quality is not as good, nor does it store as well.  I bought a 25 pound bag for less than $4 a pound that included shipping from Walton Feed at   Smaller sizes are available there and elsewhere online for more cost per pound.

One Quart:
This will yield a little more than a quart.  Using 3 cups apples might yield closer to a quart.   

 4 c. blanched sliced apples 
3/4 c. granulated sugar 
1/4 c. clear jel A (hot type)   
1/2 c. cold water 
1/2 tsp. cinnamon (optional) 
3/4 c. apple juice 
1/8 tsp. nutmeg (optional) 
2 tbsp. bottled lemon juice plus extra

Dried Apricots with Goat Cheese and Pistachios

Yes those are apricots. Don't judge.  
Dried Apricots with Goat Cheese and Pistachios 
From Gourmet
Serves 50, adjust accordingly. 

150 dried apricot halves (2 pounds)
1 1/2 cups fresh orange juice
1 1/2 cups shelled pistachios, 1/2 of them toasted
1 pound soft mild goat cheese, chilled

Toss apricots with juice and let stand, tossing occasionally, 20 minutes.

Chop all pistachios, preferably by hand, and season with salt. Drain apricots, cut sides up, on paper towels.  I just purchased toasted and salted pistachios and didn't chop them but placed them on whole.

Top each with a small chunk of cheese and sprinkle with nuts.
You can assemble these 1 day ahead and chill them, covered, but they can't be stacked and will take up a lot of refrigerator space.  When calculating appetizers, the total of all served should be 6-8 per person.  


Pippin for pies and MacIntosh for caramel apples. 

Old Lemon Juice and Clearance Cookies

I bought some expiring sugar cookie dough and searched around for a recipe to use it besides the obvious.  I found this recipe which was perfect.  I used up a few drops of lemon juice that tasted old.  And by old I mean bad. 
Lemon Tarts
From Pillsbury
These dainty little tarts are perfect for a bridal shower or wedding reception. Candy violets or small candy flowers can be used as a garnish. They can be purchased at specialty housewares stores, craft stores, bakeries or from cake decorating mail order catalogs. 
Serves 24 

3 inches Pillsbury™ refrigerated sugar cookies 

1 medium lemon 
3/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons butter or margarine 
2 eggs, beaten 

Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 24 small tart pans or mini muffin cups. In each tart pan, place 1 rounded teaspoon dough; gently press in bottom and up side. (Wrap and refrigerate remaining dough for another use.) Place tart pans on cookie sheet.

Bake 7 to 9 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 1 minute; carefully remove tart shells from pans to cooling racks.

Grate peel from lemon (about 4 to 5 teaspoons); set aside. Squeeze juice from lemon, adding water if necessary to equal 1/4 cup; place in 2-quart saucepan. Stir in sugar and butter. Heat over medium heat until butter is melted. Remove from heat; stir in beaten eggs. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. Stir in lemon peel. Cool slightly, about 15 minutes. (Lemon filling can be refrigerated at this point until ready to serve).

To serve, spoon about 1 tablespoon lemon filling into each tart shell. Garnish as desired.  I topped with whipped cream.

Any remaining lemon filling can be stored in the refrigerator up to 1 week and used as a spread on muffins or English muffins.

My tips:  I cooked my filling too long and it got too thick.  Before I spooned it into cups, I warmed it a bit in the microwave (it had been refrigerated) and added water.  This worked fine.  I had trouble getting the cups out and found they must be cooked until light golden brown (like the directions) but I found it took longer than 9 minutes.  They need to be crisp throughout.  Since I used bottled lemon juice I didn't include lemon peel. 

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: 1 Tart 

Calories 90
Calories from Fat 35 
Total Fat 4g Saturated
Fat 2g 
Cholesterol 25mg
Sodium 50mg
Total Carbohydrate 12g 
Dietary Fiber 0g 
Sugars 10g 
Protein 1g 
Daily Value Vitamin A2% Vitamin C0% Calcium0% Iron 0%


Soft, Brown Apples

I almost threw away unwanted apples.  But logic and reason brought me back to my senses.  Phew, that was close.  Apple butter always hides, well, everything. 
Overnight Apple Butter
Source unknown 
Makes about 4 pints

Wash, peel, core and chunk enough apples to fill a four-quart slow- cooker (about 5-6 pounds of apples)

Mix together:
3 cups sugar
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 Tbsp cinnamon

Spread this over the apples. Let stand with the lid on overnight. Then cook in the slow-cooker for four hours on low. Cool and run through blender or leave chunky. 

Don't peek, add water or even stir until it is finished cooking. If you have let it cool to blend it, reheat to simmer before ladling into jars.  Water bath for 15 minutes.

Some Kind of Jam

And I don't mean difficulty.  Well, maybe I do.  I had ancient sugarized jam in my fridge and I didn't know what kind it was.  I'm thinking either plum or blueberry.  It worked well in this recipe.
Sweet and Sour Meatballs
Serves a crowd

4 pounds meatballs  (not Italian)
32 oz grape jelly or 1 quart of homemade jam or jelly
24 oz chili sauce

Place all ingredients in a slow cooker and mix.  Some people put the sauce on the bottom first, some pour it over the top.  Heat on low for about 4 hours.  

Variation: Use cocktail wieners  

Leftover Oil

I have been storing last year's red peppers in some olive oil that I flavored.  We finally finished a jar and I wasn't about to throw out flavored oil.  After much contemplation,  I decided to roast my garden cauliflower in it.  Yum.
Roasted Cauliflower

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Break or cut cauliflower head into florets.  Place on cookie sheet.  Drizzle with flavored oil and toss.  Roast for 40 min. making sure cauliflower is brown and crispy.  

You could just use olive oil, salt, garlic or seasonings of your choice. 

Dehydrating Kale

This is a great way to store kale or any greens as it doesn't take up freezer space.  It's easy to throw in a smoothie or food recipe.  If you pulverize it in a food processor it takes up even less space on the shelf. 
Dehydrating Greens

Tear off the leafy greens from the main vein and other large veins.

Wash greens well.  I dump mine in the sink and wash each one individually. 

Let drain and remove excess water by shaking water off, patting excess water or using a salad spinner.

I use the dehydrating option on my oven.  I place a single layer of greens on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and dehydrate at 140 degrees.  If you don't have this option, set the temperature to the lowest setting which is probably 180 degrees or use a dehydrator and follow the manufacturers instructions.  Watch greens to determine when they are dry enough.  Let cool before storing.

The smoothie in the picture is made with apple juice or cider, peaches, bananas, raspberries, kale and ice.  

Black in the Crack

My cherry tomatoes cracked, sat and turned black in the crack.  I cut out the black and used Mrs. Wages pasta mix for a quick fix.

"Those Brown Things Are Bacon"

Um, not exactly, sweet 7 year old grandchild.  Those brown things are old cauliflower.  Not mine, but your mother's.  I'm sorry grandma tricked you.  OK, not really.  But those brown things on top hiding those other brown things are bacon. 
Cauliflower Soup
From Taste of Home
Serves 8

1 medium head cauliflower, broken into florets (about 2 pounds)
1 medium carrot, shredded (I used dehydrated carrots)
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 1/2 cups water 
2 teaspoons chicken or 1 vegetable bouillon cube
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt (can substitute celery salt and omit celery)
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 cups 2% milk
1 cup (4 oz) shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 to 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, very optional  

In a large bowl, combine the cauliflower, carrot, celery, water and bouillon. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until vegetables are tender (do not drain).
In another large saucepan, melt butter. Stir in the flour, salt and pepper until smooth. Gradually add milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Reduce heat. Stir in the cheese until melted. Add hot pepper sauce if desired. Stir into the cauliflower mixture. Yield: 8 servings (about 2 quarts).

Nutritional Facts

1 serving (1 cup) equals 159 calories, 11 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 35 mg cholesterol, 617 mg sodium, 10 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 7 g protein.

Getting Rid of Some Old Nuts

I sure you can think of something to say here.

Chex Mix
Yield: 10 cups
1/2 cup butter or margarine 
4 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1-1/4 teaspoons seasoned salt 
2 1/2 cups Wheat Chex square cereal
2 1/2 cups Rice Chex square cereal
2 1/2 cups Corn Chex square cereal  
1/4 cup nuts
1/2 cups small pretzel rods

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Melt butter in a shallow pan. Stir in Worcestershire sauce and seasoned salt.  Add Wheat Chex, Rice Chex, nuts (peanuts, pecans or cashews), and pretzel rods. Mix until all pieces are coated with the butter mixture.  Bake for 60 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Cool.

Like Mother Like Daughter

Daughter Winnie used up some stale oatmeal and the last of few dried cherries in these cookies.
Oatmeal Cherry Cookies
From Cherryland's Best

Makes about 4 dozen

1 cup (2 sticks) margarine or butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups Quaker oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
1-1/2 cups CherryLand’s Best dried cherries

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Beat together margarine and sugars until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well. Stir in oats and dried cherries; mix well. Drop by rounded tablespoonfulls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet; remove to wire rack.