Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holiday Cookies!

I'll add pictures of these cookies when we cook them on Christmas Eve (or Christmas Eve Eve). I didn't realize how similar these two recipes are until I typed them up! Both are great for little hands and I remember making them when I was but a wee tyke!

Snickerdoodles (my Mawmaw's recipe)

These are fought over every year and some "special" members of the family get their own containers to take home with them!

1 cup soft shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 cup flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Mix first three ingredients together thoroughly. Sift together remaining ingredients and stir in to creamed mixture. Chill dough. Roll into balls the size of small walnuts and then room in mixture of 2 T. sugar, 2 t. cinnamon. Place about 2" apart on non greased baking sheet. Bake in a 400 degree oven until lightly browned...but still soft (8-10 min). These cookies puff up at first...then flatten out with crinkled tops. This recipe makes about 5 dozen 2" cookies.....I suggest you double it to lessen the fighting!

Molasses Crinkles (from my Grandma Quaschnick)

3/4 cup Crisco
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 1/4 cup flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger

Cream sugar and crisco, add eggs and molasses. Sift together dry ingredients and then add to creamed mixture. Chill dough. Roll into small walnut sized balls. Dip in Christmas sugar and multi-colored non-pariels. Bake at 350 for 8-10 min. These also (as their name suggests) rise up and then crinkle when they are done.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Holiday Drinks: Hot Apple Cider

I love to drink my family's hot cider as soon as it gets cold outside. One of the keys to this cider is that when you buy a gallon of cider at the store check the ingredients for.........apple cider! You wouldn't believe how many gallons I see every winter labeled apple cider and the only ingredient that it contains is apple juice. I don't understand how they can do this, but an easy way to tell the difference is by the look: Here is a picture of cider (on the left) and juice (on the right). If you happen to buy a container that says it is cider, but you get home and discover that it is juice, never fear it will still be good, maybe not as good, but good never the less.

Here's an explanation of the difference:

Apple Cider vs. Apple Juice

Apple cider is essentially apple juice that has not undergone a filtration process that removes coarse pulp or sediment. Cider may or may not be heat pasteurized. Apple juice has been filtrated, pasteurized, and vacuum sealed to give a longer lasting, clearer looking product. Most juices add additional water and other ingredients to maintain flavor and clarity. Outside the U.S., the term "Apple Cider" typically means "Hard Cider" while "Apple Juice" usually will get you a sweet cider.

Okay, now that we've discussed the main ingredient here is the recipe:
  • 1 gallon of cider
  • 3 - 5 sticks of cinnamon
  • handful of whole cloves
  • 2 tbs. butter
  • 1/3c. light brown sugar
Place all ingredients into a crockpot and cook for at least 3 hours. You could also do this on the stove top of course, but do not boil the cider. Just cook below a simmer.

Leftover cider is great! Let the cider cool to room temperature and then pour through a strainer back into the original container and refrigerate. The butter will congeal on the top but, it reheats in mugs wonderfully.

You can also "starbucks up" your cider with whipped cream and caramel sauce. Yum-O!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Free things + Christmas music

I just found on Coupon Katie that every day this December through Christmas, Amazon.com is unveiling a new holiday song available to download free for a limited time. Even though they add a new song everyday, you can download the ones from past days as well. Many of the songs are by Christian bands so I think that is neat as well. You can also preview the songs before you download them (just because they are holiday songs doesn't mean you'll be adding them to your Christmas play list). To access the songs just click on the picture above and (if you haven't already) download amazon's mp3 downloader. Then you can put the song on your mp3 player, a CD, or just play it from your computer.

Merry Christmas!!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Rain Boots, 5 stars

Guest post from Betsy:
I got mine at Old Navy, but you can find similar boots at Target, Walmart, and other stores. These are boots that children will wear without shoes; one tip is to buy a bigger size in the fall so they can wear two pairs of socks during cold/snowy weather. By the time summer rolls around, they should be comfy going barefoot in their boots!

Pros: Can walk through any wet/nasty substance without getting shoes or pantlegs dirty (if you tuck pants in or roll them up). This means that dog poop, mud, and other yucky things stay on the boots and at the door instead of being tracked in your house! They're also fairly easy to take off, facilitating removal at the door. Go puddle walking with flair and with no worries!

Cons: Can't think of any except that the fabric lined ones take a while to dry if water gets inside (like, um, if a well-meaning 2-year-old pours a cup of water inside while they're perched by the door...).

Well worth the investment. They hold up well, enable your kids to play outside in all kinds of weather, and are easy enough for the kids to put on by themselves. If you make the investment for your kids, you should get yourself some! Who's going to be going puddle jumping with them?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas Giveaway!

Simple Mom is hosting a giveaway today, so head over to her site for a chance to win this:

Aunt Linda's Ambrosia

There are a ton of variations for ambrosia out there, but this is my Aunt's version and we really love it!
  • 1 large can of crushed pineapple, drained
  • 2 small or 1 large can of mandarin oranges, drained
  • 1 large container of Cool Whip
  • 1 small package of Jello (cherry, strawberry, or cranberry)
  • 1-2 cups of mini-marshmallows
Mix the jello into the cool whip, then fold in the fruit and mallows. This year I actually forgot the marshmallows and it was still really good. Chill until set (just a couple of hours). You can of course also add pecans or coconut for an added texture, but we don't.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

My Aunt Betty's Crab Dip

This crab dip is soooooo good!

1/2 stick of butter
6-7 chopped scallions or 3-4 chopped scallions and half a medium onion chopped fine
1 8 oz. brick of cream cheese (not lite!), cut into small chunks
2 cans of 9oz. well-drained white lump crabmeat
Tony Chachere's and red pepper to taste

Put butter and onions in a microwave-safe bowl and cook for 3 minutes. Add the cream cheese, and zap again for another two minutes. Add crabmeat and seasonings and zap for another minute.

Serve with Club crackers!

Monday, December 7, 2009

The much requested: BARK

My Aunt Linda made this for us last Thanksgiving and I couldn't stop eating it!! When I got back to Knoxville I was informed that it was called Cracker Candy. I don't care what you call it, I can't get enough!

35 saltine crackers(about one sleeve)

3/4 cup butter (don't use margarine)

1 cup brown sugar

1 8 oz. bag Toffee bits (I use about 2/3 of a bag)

1 12oz. bag mini semi-sweet morsels (I use a couple of handfuls of normal morsels)

Line rimmed cookie sheet with foil; place crackers in single layer, 5 by 7, on cookie sheet. Melt butter; add brown sugar and blend well. Spread over crackers, then bake for 5 minutes at 375 degrees. Immediately spread toffee bits and chocolate chips over crackers; set back in oven to slightly melt for 2-3 extra minutes. Refrigerate on pan until completely cool, then break apart. Place some aside in a container so that you actually get some after your guests eat it all.

Betsy also has a different variation posted on her blog called Pine Bark Candy. I see a taste test in our future!

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Holidays (and the foods that go with them!)

My friend Betsy over at fulltummies brought up a good point this year at Thanksgiving. We have all these family recipes floating around, why not post them online so that every year you know EXACTLY where they are? My next couple of posts will be about our holiday favorites.

Here is a Thanksgiving favorite that I can't imagine Thanksgiving without. It comes from the Quaschnick side of my family and I bought a meat grinder for my KitchenAid mixer just so I could make it!!

Cranberry Relish

5 small tart apples (texture is more important than taste here, I'd go with granny smiths)
1 bag of frozen cranberries
1 6oz. can of Frozen Concentrated Orange Juice
Sugar to taste

I fit my meat grinder with the larger of the two plates, but if you have more than two sizes you'll know if your plate is too small if all you are getting coming out is juice! Wash, slice and core the apples. Feed the first three ingredients down through your meat grinder. The berries can be thawed, but I don't think it makes a difference. After everything goes through the grinder stir to mix ingredients well. After sitting 24hrs. in your fridge taste and add sugar as needed.

As you can see this recipe needs to be made ahead of time and it can easily be doubled for large crowds. Delish!

Another family favorite of mine is Pumpkin Cheesecake. The recipe linked here is Martha's, but this year I substituted the graham crackers crumbs for ginger snap cookie crumbs and it was AWESOME!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

My Review of Thomas and Friends Play and Go Storage Box

Here is a review I posted online at Toys R Us. Ethan likes this case and it is useful to bring a small number of engines to a different room or to a friend's house, I've just been disappointed mainly in the latches.

Originally submitted at Toys R Us

Thomas & Friends Play and Go Storage Box features a built-in track layout for portable play. It's compatible with Thomas Wooden Railway track for use in train layouts. And the Storage Box holds up to 16 Thomas Wooden Railway vehicles.

1out of 5

Cons: Falls Apart, Poor Construction

Best Uses: Young Children

Describe Yourself: Education Oriented, First Time Parent, Stay At Home Parent

This product does not have a good design. The little track on it has an outer loop and then an inner track. The track does not act as a figure-8, but instead once the middle track is taken the train is headed the wrong way on the outer loop.
Also the track looks like you could extend it but the ends of the tracks are four female ends so you cannot build onto the track that is on the outside of the case.

The latches on this product are terrible! They are plastic and will not stay latched for more than just a few seconds. I'm having my husband replace them with metal latches so that this can actually become a traveling toy. Also, the plastic troughs that hold the trains aren't really big enough to fit the wooden engines.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin