Monday, December 5, 2011

Grandma Verna's Sugar Cookies


A very special cookie recipe in out house, this recipe is from my husband's cousin's grandmother.  Grandma Verna is no longer with us but if she were, she's be well over 100 years old.  So I don't know where she got this recipe but you can bet it's probably been handed down through the generations.

But enough about that...here's the recipe:

Grandma Verna's Sugar Cookies
What you need:

1 cup sweet butter

1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, well beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla

3 cups all purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

What you do:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Thoroughly blend butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla.
Add the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt.  Mix well.

Cover and chill the dough 30 minutes or until ready to bake.  Divide the cookie dough in half.  Keep one half chilled while you roll the other.






On a floured surface, roll to about 1/8 inch thickness.  Cut with cookie cutters of your choice.  Place on ungreased baking sheet and bake until just starting to turn golden about 8 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack, then frost and decorate however you like!  I generally coat each cookie with a thin layer of decorator's icing and sprinkle with colored sugar or other decorative sprinkles.

Blogger Mom On Time Out has a great post on how to make colored sugar.  It's easy to do and her photos are so pretty they could be art prints!

Tip: Keep flour in old spice shaker and use for dusting cookie cutting board
Decorator's Icing

Mix 2 cups confectioner's sugar with 1 tablespoon of water and add a teaspoon at a time until you have a thin spreading consistency.


Sugar Cookie Dough in a Roll
Slice & Bake Sugar Cookies
One nice thing about this recipe is that if you don't have the time or don't want to spend forever cutting out all the shapes (but isn't that the most fun?), you can roll the dough into cylinders, wrap them in waxed paper or plastic wrap and store them in the refrigerator or freezer.  When you want to bake a batch, simply slice them into rounds, place on a baking sheet, bake, ice and decorate!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Holiday Decorating - Simplified





Because we're not going to have any guests, this Christmas, I've decided to scale back on the holiday decorating.  We'll have a tree, of course.  I like sitting at night with just the tree lights glowing.

But I've learned that you don't have to have lots of expensive holiday decor in order to have a holiday ambiance.  This all started years ago when I couldn't afford much.  Now I've come to love the simplicity of some of these little "tricks".

 The first thing I do is remove most of the non-Christmassy stuff.  The worst part about doing that is finding a place to stash it all until after the Holidays.  P.S. Don't look under the beds.

One thing that I do every year that is inexpensive and effective is tie a large ribbon around the lamp bases.  The first photo shows that I did not remove anything at all from that table.  I just tied a bow around the lamp.  Jack gave me that cloisonne vase about 30 years ago and the little box looks nice with it plus they almost look Holidayish.  Christmassy and Holidayish are not in the dictionary but are just the words I'm looking for so....

Anyway, at the end of the season I just roll the ribbons up and tuck them in with the rest of the ornaments.  Just thought you might find that useful.

Now I'm going to go see what else I've got stashed away that I can reinvent for the holidays!

This is an updated version of a 2009 Lake Mary Musings  holiday post.  It kind of qualifies as a crafty idea so I'm putting it on this new blog!  

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Bean Burritos - A Vegetarian Recipe


This is a really delicious recipe for burritos from Martha's Everyday Food  magazine from ... dare I admit it? ...November of 2005!!  Yep, I'm a magazine junkie.

I've tweaked the original recipe and have noted that where appropriate.

3/4 cup rice (brown or white - I used brown) Cook rice according to directions.

In large saucepan, heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil over medium heat.

Add:
2 medium onions (yellow or white), chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno chile, chopped (ribs and seed removed for less heat - which I did)
OR 1 small can of green chiles...mild, medium or hot...your choice.
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
coarse salt and ground pepper

Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. (It really does take that long.)

Add:
3 Tablespoons tomato paste, and cook, stirring for 1 minute.

Add:
3 cans (15 oz. each) pinto beans, drained and rinsed, and 1-1/2 cups water; bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 10 to 12 minutes.

Add 1 can (14 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed.  Remove from the heat and stir in 6 chopped green onions.
The original recipe called for 1 box (ten oz.) frozen corn kernels; cook to heat through, 2 to 3 minutes.

Heat 8 flour tortillas (10-inch burrito size) one at a time in a dry skillet over medium heat. Turned them once or twice until hot;

To assemble the burritos, mound 1/4 cup rice, 3/4 cup bean mixture and 1/4 cup of cheese on one side of tortilla.


Fold and hold in the sides. Starting from filled end, holding sides in as you work, tightly roll into a bundle.

Place on a baking sheet, seam side down, and prepare remaining burritos. Put them in the freezer until frozen (duh) and then remove them, wrap them individually and place back int he freezer.

Reheating from frozen: There are three ways to reheat these according to the recipe.

Frozen 3 months ago...reheated today.  Mighty tasty!

Microwave and Oven: Remove frozen burritos from plastic wrap. Place on a microwave-safe plate: Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Transfer to baking sheet: bake at 450 degrees until crispy, about 10 minutes. (This is Martha's favorite "quick" method.)

Microwave only: Remove from...yadda, yadda, yadda. Place on microwave-safe plate, covered with a microwave-safe bowl, and defrost at high power for 3 to 4 minutes; uncover, and microwave on high, 3 to 4 minutes longer.

Oven only: Remove from...blah, blah, blah. Rewrap individually in aluminum foil. Place on a baking sheet; bake at 450 degrees, 40 minutes; remove foil, and bake to crisp, a5 to 10 minutes.

NOTE: To reheat defrosted burritos, remove any wrapping and bake for 10 minutes.

Serve with sour cream and salsa or chopped tomatoes, lettuce, onions, whatever...

The flavor was excellent and one burrito was a generous serving. I hope you try these. Bet you'll make them again!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Two Irresistible Holiday Treats

This is sort of a re-post.  Originally posted on my "chatty" blog Lake Mary Musings, I decided awhile back that I would move the recipe posts from that blog to this new blog.  These make wonderful gifts during the holidays...hostess gifts, for example, or teachers' gifts...bosses' gifts, employee gifts...etc.  But make enough to keep at home!

Did you know that the first known use of the word chocolaty was in 1926?  I didn't either until I decided to look up a proper spelling.   Merriam-Webster.com says you can spell it either chocolaty or chocolatey.  The bit about its first known use was interesting, I thought.  However, they do not expand on where it was used or who first used it.  Fodder for another post, perhaps.

Cashew Clusters
These are Cashew Clusters.  I love them.  Luckily, this delicious confection is simple to whip up.  A friend of mine actually brought some of these to a card party a couple of weeks ago.  She was kind enough to share the recipe...don't know where she found it, though.  It's probably decades old and I'm just now finding out about it.

Here's how to make them:

CASHEW CLUSTERS

1 (12-oz) pkg. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 (12-oz) pkg. butterscotch chips
2-1/4 cups granola
2 cups cashew pieces

Melt the chocolate and butterscotch chips in a glass bowl in the microwave.  It only takes a minute or two...try one minute then stir and add another minute.   Or you could melt them in a saucepan but slowly so they don't scorch.

Add the granola and cashews.  Mix thoroughly.

I have a mini-muffin tin which I lined with those tiny paper cupcake liners.  I dropped about a teaspoonful of the mixture into each of the paper liners.  You wouldn't need those, of course.  Just line up the papers on a tray and fill them that way.


About the granola.  I bought just a plain granola without raisins or spices.  You could use any kind you like, however.  I wanted the cashews to take center stage.



Believe it or not, I bought the granola, took it home and made these clusters before I even realized that the granola is made very near where my sister and brother-in-law in Washington live!  In the Skagit Valley of Washington state.   I'm just pleased as punch about that.

That's it!  I'm going to package some of these up in small boxes lined with parchment, tie with pretty ribbons and bells and give as little gifts.



This next recipe is a popular one for Holiday treats.  It's called by many names but are quite simply Peanut Butter Bonbons.

Peanut Butter Bonbon
The recipe is from   of The Virtual Goody Plate.  I think you should pop over there for the actual recipe because her bonbon is dusted with edible star glitter.  Yes, it is - you've gotta see it!  I don't have edible glitter on mine, of course, but you can bet that as soon as I can get to a Michael's (a craft shop here in the States) I'll be picking up a bunch.

And her recipe is printable, too.  In fact, that's how I stumbled upon her blog...she and I both figured out how to put a printable button from the  Food Bloggers Unite! website.

"There are four basic food groups: milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, and chocolate truffles." - Anonymous