These cookies are super cute and quite tasty. I used the Wilton Easy Cut-Out Cookie recipe to make quick work of this project. Just make the dough, pinch off a small ball, form it around the treat stick, and place your cookie cut-out on top. I used three chocolate chips to top the cookie and then popped them in the oven. Here’s the video for the Wilton recipe.
During the recent Thanksgiving holiday, the weather turned cold. I had an idea to cook up a large pot of hearty soup; a comfort food that is always a good idea during the Midwestern winter months. I had plenty of leftover vegetables that I’d purchased to make stuffing and to season other dishes. So, Friday morning I threw a few chicken breasts into a pot of simmering water and set out to make a soup for those looking for a comforting bowl of deliciousness during the weekend.
While I could have used my leftover turkey for this recipe, I chose to leave it for sandwiches as the family likes to pile turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce on a hearty wheat bread for traditional turkey leftover sandwiches. I did, however, toast some super thin Pepperidge Farm’s bread to act as a crispy accent to the smooth and creamy soup. I hope you try this delicious soup as this one warms the soul…
Note: I keep chicken stock base in my pantry for times when I don’t have chicken broth on the shelf. Follow the directions on the side of the container to substitute this base for the canned broth.
Creamy Chicken Rice Soup
1 tablespoon oil
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup long grain rice, uncooked
3/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) chicken broth
3 tablespoons flour
1 can (5 ounces) evaporated milk
2 cups chicken breast, cooked and cubed
In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat; sauté carrot, celery and onion until tender. Add garlic; cook until vegetables are translucent. Stir in rice, seasonings and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered about 15 minutes, until the rice is tender. In a small bowl, mix flour and evaporated milk until smooth; stir into soup. Bring to a boil; cook and stir until thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in chicken and heat through.
Every summer, I attend basket making classes at a local county park. I always look forward to the project at hand. This year, we made an adorable Christmas stocking basket. I’ll fill it with lots of dried or fresh flowers for all my Christmas events.
Here’s a brief picture tutorial…
Every year, I try to identify a unique recipe to give to friends and relatives for the gift-giving season. I’m always looking for a recipe that highlights the deep rich flavor of our own homemade maple syrup. This year was no different… I found a great, sweet and savory recipe that sautés delicious ingredients that are eventually added to the slow-cooker, then left to reduce for several hours. Mix this delicious jam with a bit of cream cheese and spread on hearty crackers. Or, warm the jam to top a protein like a chicken breast or a beef burger for an extra boost of flavor. The bacon, grilled onions, maple syrup, and coffee combined together in the slow-cooker add a depth of delicious flavor. This is so good!
You can find this exceptional recipe here:
Slow Cooker Bacon and Onion Jam
Adapted from the above recipe…
1 ½ pounds sliced bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
2 medium yellow onions, diced small
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 heaping tablespoon pure maple syrup
3/4 cup brewed coffee
In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium-high, stirring occasionally, until fat is rendered and bacon is lightly browned, about 20 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from skillet (reserve for another use); add onions and garlic, and cook until onions are translucent, about 6 minutes. Add vinegar, brown sugar, maple syrup, and coffee and bring to a boil, stirring and scraping up browned bits from skillet with a wooden spoon, about 2 minutes. Add bacon and stir to combine.
Transfer mixture to a 6-quart slow cooker and cook on high, uncovered, until liquid is syrupy, 3 1/2 to 4 hours. Transfer to a food processor; pulse until coarsely chopped. Let cool, then refrigerate in airtight containers, up to 4 weeks.
This is a crazy easy short-cut, if you’re looking for a last minute Christmas cookie recipe. A semi-homemade treat that combines a pouch of cookie mix with a little cinnamon and sugar makes these cookies taste honey bun yummy! I use turbinado sugar for a crunchier exterior, while the interior stays moist and flavorful.
1 pouch sugar cookie mix
2 tablespoons flour
1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Heat oven to 350 degrees. In large bowl, stir cookie mix, flour, butter and egg until dough forms. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. In small bowl, mix turbinado sugar and cinnamon. Roll balls in sugar-cinnamon mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets; slightly flatten. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes. Cool slightly and remove to cooling racks.
Saturday’s unseasonable temperatures made for a very chilly (end of the summer) basketmaking workshop. Wearing several long-sleeved layers didn’t do much to shield us from the brisk winds during this cool and breezy day. It was hard to imagine that the temperatures had climbed to nearly 100 degrees the weekend before. Despite the weather, we happily socialized as we worked beneath a shelter at a local county park. The item that we were to assemble was a cute round, (continuous weave structure); a pumpkin-shaped basket. Here are the steps that our incredible instructor took us through during this four-hour weekend event.
Dividing the disk into 4 equal parts, place 23 spokes within the well of the disk; weaving while working in the spokes.After weaving 6 continuous rows, gently begin shaping the basket upwards. Continue weaving upward for 14 more rows; loosely weaving to shape the belly of the pumpkin.
At row 19 or 20 begin to tighten the weave to form the top of the pumpkin.
At row thirty, the weave is complete.Bend down, every other spoke. Clip; mark remaining spokes to bend under and secure under weave.Secure wire handle before finishing rim of the basket.Complete basket rim with sea grass and lashing.We enjoyed a beautiful, but chilly, day at our local county park!
Around the holidays I love to make special “gifts from the kitchen” for friends and family. Most times, I make batches of cookies, breads, candies, or snack mixes. This year, I made brown bread loaves and Sparking Christmas Jam for everyone.
I was doing a major house cleaning and I had stumbled upon a few boxes of cute little jelly jars. I was in the mood for a major cleanup and I was trying to get rid of anything I hadn’t used in a while. This wide mouth batch would work just fine for gift giving jars. I remembered that I had loads of frozen strawberries and cranberries in the freezer that I could use for the intended mix, so I quickly scrubbed the jars in warm soapy water and began to prep the recipe. Here are the instructions that I used.
I must admit, the recipe is not very precise and of course, canning is a precise science. When processing for home preservation where items are to be stored on shelves, I only use tested, reputable recipes. Therefore, I processed the jars as instructed but I asked those receiving a jar to KEEP IT IN THE FRIDGE for safety purposes. I gave them cold, refrigerated jars to remind them where they should be stored. No need to get anyone sick via an oversight when canning!
This is a scrumptious recipe. Great with bread and butter or tea and toast… I’ve already gotten a few requests for another jar next year. The beginning of a tradition…?
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Let’s make this a good one!
In the midst of all of the holiday hoopla and Christmas shopping, I realized that there may be a load of practical gift cards that might be received far better than any piece of clothing or fancy kitchen gadget. For students, especially those living in highly populated cities, transportation can be an issue. Gift cards focused on shuttling a person from one destination to another might be much more appreciated versus a piece of clothing. Train passes, Uber gift cards, bus passes, etc. are all good ideas. Last year my sister in law gave my children transportation gift cards and they were used to shuttle them to the local grocery store, to the airport, and home from the local burger and brew joint. (Each of my children are in college and over the age of 21.). They also received gift cards from the local drug store where they were able to by toiletries, milk, and basic groceries while on campus. Another great idea for college students, gifts cards for sandwich shops and local eateries. Many dorm cafeterias are closed on Sunday evenings so having a gift card for a local diner is always appreciated.
Be creative as you think of ways to “wrap” your gift cards. Think of using beautiful paper scraps, college themed papers, Christmas wrap, or themed scrap book papers. I recently purchased some high-end soap from a local discount store. The soap was wrapped in a beautiful heavy weight paper that I just couldn’t throw away. This gave me the idea to use the paper as a wrap for a small gift; hence, a gift wrap for the gift card. Here’s what I did…
I found a template here. Or, Google various gift card envelope images for the shape you prefer.
I gathered an assortment of scrap paper, and the beautiful wrapping paper found on some milled soaps.
I printed the template and traced the outline on various scraps.I penciled in some fold lines.
I thought it might be nice to have a contrasting liner.Using a few paper punches, I fashioned a gift tag.
Use Christmas paper, shopping bags, newspaper… Whatever you like.This is an enjoyable way to personize and make personal, an ordinary, yet purposeful gift card.
A couple of weeks ago, our local woman’s club held a holiday craft-making session for all of its members. During one of the sessions, I saw a group assembling a dry soup mix in a cone shaped bag. The leader of the session had carefully measured out ingredients for all to use for their individual bags. The layered mix looked colorful and interesting. I complimented her on the clever idea of making such an inexpensive gift packaged in a compact and attractive cellophane bag. Two days later, she left a couple of different soup packages on my desk while she visited my office. She included a little note card explaining how each of the soup mixes should be cooked. I was so appreciative of her gift. What a kind gesture!
Naturally, I made a pot of soup when I returned home that evening. The Italian Curly Soup recipe made just the right amount and tasted delicious poured over a few mini-meatballs. Warm and flavorful with a crisp green salad and some crusty bread…
I’d like to send a big shout out to my dear friend… Thank you for the delicious mixes. Can’t wait to try the Wild Rice Soup recipe. This is a great and inexpensive “anytime” gift to pass along to someone special in your life… A warm and wonderful gift from the kitchen.
I recently remade the soup and I have posted a slightly different recipe below…
Italian Curly Soup In a Cone
Layer in a cake decorating disposable cone (or quart sized-jar) the following ingredients:
How about a piping hot bowl of wild rice soup?
Here’s another great soup in a jar recipe…
This past holiday weekend was mild and breezy…the perfect opportunity to head up the road to a local farm to purchase some plump, ripe blueberries. The trip was inspired by my niece who had been “baking up a storm” to celebrate her mother’s (my sister’s) birthday. My sister celebrates her birthday on Independence Day so her daughter prepared a few festive goodies for the occasion. After seeing a few pictures of the table setting for the party, I was inspired to uncover our vintage Mustang convertible and take a drive down the country road to pick up a five-pound box of freshly picked berries. This is one of my favorite pie recipes as it is super simple, made with fresh, bright flavors and ingredients. There is nothing like sharing a piece of blueberry pie after dinner on a Sunday evening with the family before starting another busy work week.
Blueberry Pie with Oat Crumble Topping
1 pre-made pie crust
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
5 cups fresh blueberries
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
6 tablespoons butter
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Press the pie crust into the bottom and up the sides of a 9″ pie plate. In a large bowl, stir together the sugar and flour, lemon zest and lemon juice. Gently stir in the blueberries. Carefully, pour blueberry mixture into the pie crust.In a medium bowl, stir together the brown sugar, oats, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix in butter using a pastry blender or fork until crumbly. Spread the crumb topping evenly over the pie filling.