Category Archives: Holidays

Traditional Gingerbread Cookies

Gingerbread Cookies

Gingerbread Cookies

Christmas and the following week up to New Year’s Eve just doesn’t seem the same if I’m not nibbling on some homemade Gingerbread Cookies. This recipe is sure to bring a smile to the kids face. A great recipe for a cookie decorating party. If you become real ambitious try icing them with a thin white icing, then painting on them with food coloring. You could even punch a hole in the tops of them with a straw before baking so that you could hang them from your tree with ribbon. Any way you choose to use them over the holidays they are one of my favorites.

Ingredients:       makes about 5 dozen very large cookies

  • 1/2 cup shortening, softened
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/4 cups molasses
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2/3 cups cold water
  • 6 cups flour, sifted
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp of all these spices: Allspice, Ginger, Ground Cloves, Ground Cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 350 and line a few cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl cream together the shortening, brown sugars, molasses and honey. Stir in the water. Stir together all of the dry ingredients and mix these into the creamed ingredients, about half a cup at a time. Put the cookie dough into a gallon zip lock baggy and refrigerate for about 1 hour. Now on a floured surface work with about a quarter of the dough at a time. Roll about 1/2″-inch thick and cut with lightly flour cookie cutters. Bake for 15 minutes, let cool slightly on the cookie sheet before removing them to a wire rack to finish cooling. Ice when completely cooled.

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Posted by on December 29, 2013 in Cookies, Holidays


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Christmas Doodle Cookies

Christmas Doodles Cookies

Christmas Doodle Cookies

Well, I’m in the middle of baking all my favorite cookies for Christmas. I thought I had checked all of the ingredients I would need, but sadly I forget to check the cream of tartar. So….after already having the basic recipe started for Snickerdoodles and finding I only had 1/2 the amount of that spice needed I decided to change it up a bit. How about spicing it up with the Christmas flavors I love. A little ginger and cloves. Here’s my recipe for what I am calling Christmas Doodle Cookies.

Ingredients:  Yields 3 1/2 dozen cookies

  • 1/2 cup shortening, softened
  • 1/2 salted butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 3/4 cups sifted flour
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 3 TB sugar
  • 3 TB ground cinnamon

DSC_1811 (2)Preheat your oven to 400 and line a couple of cookies sheets with parchment paper.

Cream together the shortening, butter and eggs. Stir the dry ingredients together and stir them all into the creamed ingredients. In a small bowl mix together the sugar and cinnamon. Shape a tablespoon of cookie dough into a ball and roll in the sugar cinnamon mixture until coated. Place on the lined cookie sheets about 2″-inches apart and bake for 10 minutes.


Posted by on December 22, 2013 in Cookies, Holidays


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Amish Peppermint Christmas Cookies

Amish Peppermint Cookies

Amish Peppermint Christmas Cookies

What a wonderful Christmas cookie and so simple to make. Just add 2/3 cup of peppermint candy bits to my Amish Church Cookie Batter. I used the crushed ones in a bag for baking, basically because it’s easy. After icing the cookies, just sprinkle more of the crushed peppermint candy over the top. Here’s the link to the cookie recipe on my blog.    The only problem is that Mark and I have already ate half of the batch, and Christmas is a few weeks away.


Posted by on December 8, 2013 in Cookies, Holidays


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Aunt Mabel’s Cheese Ball?

Aunt Mabel's Cheese Ball

Aunt Mabel’s
Cheese Ball

Thanksgiving is fast approaching. Family favorites are always on the menu. Mark was looking for his Aunt Mabel’s cheese ball recipe… Well he found a recipe in his mother’s card file, not sure if it hers, but he made it hoping for the best. One taste and he was smiling….still not sure if it’s his Aunt Mabel’s or his mothers…..but it made him smile and that’s what really counts.

Ingredients:  makes 2 at about 5-inches in diameter

  • 6 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
  • 10 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 16 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 TB onion, minced
  • 1 TB Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • chopped pecans

Mix all the ingredients except the pecans. Make sure it’s thoroughly blended. Shape into balls and roll in the chopped pecans. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours. I’m leaving it in the refrigerator for about 40 hours before serving.


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Green Bean Casserole in the Crockpot

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Green Bean Casserole

First off, I am not a fan in the least of the Green Bean Casserole…..but dang if almost all of my Thanksgiving guest are. Well at least they seem to be as it is always requested and always seems to make it to the table. (Someone always insist on bringing the darn thing) This year Mark actually requested it and look so disappointed when I said no way. Oven space on this day is at a premium and I did not want to share even a minute of it for this side dish. Then a young cousin of mine shared a recipe where the casserole was made in a crockpot….Hmmmmm, could this be? How could that change the way it taste? Well after looking over the recipe I found it used a cream sauce made from scratch. Well I can’t bear to chance a homemade cream sauce turning sour in the crockpot….so why not blend the traditional French’s Green Bean Casserole recipe and this one. And that’s exactly what I have done. Plus of course I have doctored it up a bit. (Sorry about not having the finished dish photo, but hey it won’t be done until Thanksgiving Day)

Julia Child's Sauteed Mushrooms

Julia Child’s
sautéed Mushrooms

Ingredients:   Serves about 12 people

  • 8 oz of butter sautéed mushrooms and green onions, cooled (see Julia Child’s recipe, just search “sautéed mushrooms” here on my blog.)
  • 1 can of Cream of Mushroom Soup with Garlic
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground thyme
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 2 to 3 cans green beans, drained (this was hard to measure as I used green beans I had canned over the summer)
  • 1 1/2 cups French’s French Fried Onions, divided use
  • 1 TB salted butter
  • 1/2 cup Panko Bread Crumbs

In a large bowl, whisk together the soup, milk, salt, pepper, thyme, Parmesan cheese and garlic. Fold in the sautéed mushrooms and onions, bacon and the green beans. Butter the bottom and sides of your crockpot and add this green bean mixture. Top with 1/2 cup of the French’s French Fried Onions and cook on low for at least 4 hours, but it can cook all day if you need it to. About 15 minutes before serving, put the cooked mixture into a warmed casserole dish. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat, add the Panko Bread Crumbs and sautéed until toasted. Stir in the remaining 1 cup of fried onions, toss well. Put this topping over the green bean mixture and serve.

Make ahead tip: After combining the bean mixture I put it into a gallon sized freezer zip lock baggy, write down the finishing instructions and place in the freezer. Now on Thanksgiving morning I will defrost it a bit on the counter, put into the crockpot and continue on my way. (I’ve completed the assembly of this dish today, Saturday….1 dish down only 7 to go)


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Thanksgiving in my Kitchen

squirrel with orange

It’s that time of the year….but don’t let it become a burden. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Most people don’t find that a surprise because I love to cook….but actually it’s my favorite because I love to watch my family and friends enjoy and be comforted by the food I prepare. I love to rekindle childhood memories with special recipes…I love to create new memories with special people and new recipes. Now don’t mistake my excitement and enthusiasm for a stress free Thanksgiving. I do find it very stressful…..but I also have a few tried and true tricks up my sleeves to get myself through it.

First of all the best advice I have is if you are a person who does not enjoy the planning, prepping and preparing of food….don’t do it. Bring the meal in. Just because your guest may think you should cook it all yourself that doesn’t make it pleasurable….and that just doesn’t make for a good holiday. There’s nothing wrong if you don’t enjoy cooking such a celebrated meal. Try making it a pot luck, try buying a smoked turkey which has already been cooked, or if you must cook it yourself, prepare dishes you are comfortable with and enjoy making.

Now if you are like me and could spend all day in the kitchen the following are some of my tricks of the day.

  1. When planning your menu keep in mind that if you are serving more than 8 guests that the serving size of each dish will be less than if you are serving only a few guest. So when preparing your side dishes there is no need to expand or double the recipes. With so many options, people take less of each.
  2. Turkey size, plan on 1 pound per person. This will give you plenty for your guest and some leftovers. (Remember to look for those grocery store sales. I got my 10 pound turkey for only $5.00. How? Well most markets will give you big discount on your turkey if you buy a particular dollar amount in groceries. In my case I only had to spend $25 to get a turkey at 49 cents a pound. Take advantage of this) Don’t forget your turkey may take 5 to 7 days to defrost and should be defrosted in the refrigerator.
  3. Make a list of every ingredient you will need to prepare the dishes on your menu. Include staples as you may need to pick more of them up. SHOP EARLY! Don’t wait until the days before the holiday….it’s crazy in the markets and you don’t need that added stress.
  4. Do all of the cutting, dicing, chopping and assembling the weekend before Thanksgiving. Then freeze your sides to be finished on Thanksgiving day. (That’s what I’ll be doing this weekend. It makes Thursday run very smoothly. This is my schedule for Saturday and Sunday: Saturday – chopping and dicing of all veggies for the stuffing, toasting of the stuffing bread, assembling and baking my graham cracker ginger snap pie crust, then I freeze it to be used on Wednesday night when I will make my pumpkin pie. I will bake my beer bread and corn bread and freeze these also. On Sunday – sauteing my mushrooms and onions then assemble the green bean casserole and freeze, to be cooked on Thursday in the crockpot. I will make my cranberry sauce and baked mashed potatoes and freeze them also. Now on Thursday I will bring everything to room temperature and finish the baking process in the oven. But the key: No assembly required and no unnecessary dirty dishes.
  5. Ask people to pitch in. Whether they bring a side dish, the dessert or bring the beverages, it all helps to relieve the stress. (Here’s the help I’m receiving. My Daughter-in-Law will be making, in my kitchen, upon her arrival a corn pudding. Mark’s niece will also be cooking when she arrives and she is making our macaroni & cheese. Mark’s sister’s are also pitching in. One will bring a dessert, the other beverages.
  6. Create a cooking and oven timeline. How long will each dish take to finish off in the oven or on the stove? What serving dishes and utensils will be needed? Get them out and set aside. Now schedule each dish as to when it should be in the oven, how long it has to cook and when will everything be done. DINNERTIME!
  7. Last piece of advice……set the table or tables early. Set everything, including the silverware, glassware and decorations. Now cover it with a clean sheet. This will keep your beautifully set and decorated table clean and in place until the special day.

I hope my tips will help you relax and enjoy this wonderful holiday. Remember, if this is your first Thanksgiving…it’s do-able, it can be enjoyable and remember it’s just family and friends so it’s no problem.


Posted by on November 22, 2013 in Holidays, Thanksgiving, Tips


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Kathie’s Pumpkin Spice Cookies

Pumpkin Spice Cookies

Pumpkin Spice Cookies

Oh my gosh! Fabulous! This recipe comes from my friend Kathie, and it will not disappoint. Everyone, every single person who had one, told me it was the best pumpkin cookie they had ever had. I loved it. This recipe is simple yet oh so yummy. It’s definitely going into my holiday recipe must.

Cookie Ingredients:  Yields about 3 1/2 dozen

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • DSC_16341/2 cup salted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Frosting Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup salted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 to 3 cups powdered sugar

Preheat your oven to 350 and line a couple of cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the pumpkin puree, egg and vanilla until creamy. Add the flour mixture, about 1/2 cup at a time and continue to beat until all ingredients are combined fully. Drop by the tablespoon on your cookie sheets, baked for 15-20 minutes. Cool cookies completely before icing.

In a small bowl cream together the butter and cream cheese. Stir in the vanilla and cinnamon. Slowly add the powdered sugar until it is thick and creamy. I added the powdered sugar half a cup at a time until I reached the consistency I wanted. You may not need the full 3 cups. Once iced, if you’re not serving them immediately, then cover them and refrigerate.  Add a nice hot cup of coffee and your set for a wonderful dessert.

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Posted by on October 11, 2013 in Cookies, Holidays


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