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.
Creamy Chicken Rice Soup
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.
Easy Cinnamon Crumble Coffee Cake
If you are looking for an easy coffee cake recipe that you can get to the table in no time at all, this is it! The base of the batter uses a boxed baking mix to add to the ease to which this coffee cake comes together. Great for the holiday season as you might have a few early morning guests in the house. It’s a winner!
Easy Cinnamon Crumble Coffee Cake
2 cups baking mix
⅔ cup milk
2 tablespoons white sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
⅔ cup baking mix
⅔ cup brown sugar 4 tablespoons butter, cold and cubed
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup walnuts, chopped
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a deep 9-inch pie pan. Combine baking mix, milk, sugar, egg, cinnamon, and vanilla in bowl; mix well. Spread into the bottom of the prepared pan.
For topping, in a medium sized bowl, combine baking mix, brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, and walnuts. Using a fork or pastry blender until crumbly. Spread topping mix over cake batter.
Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 20-25 minutes. (Optional: Drizzle with powdered sugar/water glaze.
Slow-Cooker Bacon and Onion Jam
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.
Sparkling Christmas Jam
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!
Wrapping Things Up…
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.
Easy Peasy Pound Cake
This week marks the beginning of the official holiday season. Like many of you, my calendar is filled with holiday commitments, most of which require a carry-in dish or baked treat to bring along to the party. I really enjoy this time of year and I do my best to take advantage of a few stress-free tips that can really simplify things. One such tip would be to choose recipes that are easy yet flavorful. The recipe below includes ingredients that are nearly always on-hand in my kitchen. It’s adapted from a recipe that I found in an old community cookbook many years ago. This one’s a no brainer for me… It always turns out perfect. A few simple ingredients bake up a moist and flavorful, good ole’ fashioned, pound cake.
Easy Peasy Pound Cake
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla or almond extract
3/4 cup milk
Grease and flour a Bundt pan (take your time with this step, getting all of the softened butter and flour into all the nooks and crannies). DON’T PREHEAT THE OVEN.
In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla/almond extract and continue mixing well.
Add flour mixture alternately with milk. Beat until smooth batter is smooth. Pour into prepared pan.
Place cake into the oven, set the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for approximately 60 to 90 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean.
Dry Soup Mix in a Cone
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:
- 2 tsp. Italian seasoning
- 1teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tsp. pepper
- 2 T beef bouillon
- 1/4 C minced dry onions
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 3 cups rotini or curly tri-colored pasta
How about a piping hot bowl of wild rice soup?
Here’s another great soup in a jar recipe…
Melt in Your Mouth Christmas Cutouts
The holiday season is upon us and it’s just about time to start our Christmas baking. We had a great time this weekend as we welcomed a few young guests to share in the fun. I was happy to have found some package labels (last year’s clearance aisle) to wrap up our tasty treats for gift giving. As one of my favorite cookie recipes, I posted it several years ago… You can find it here. These tasty morsels truly do “melt in your mouth” and they are relatively simple to make. Great little gifts for those that we share our lives with… Coworkers, colleagues, the mail carrier, our anyone else that you care to share a heartfelt gift with.
Wishing you the blessings of the season as you celebrate the holidays with your family and friends.