It’s Independence Day!

Posted on July 3, 2008
Filed Under For special occassions, Grilling, Holiday cooking


How are you spending the holiday? …Going out on the lake? …Firing up the grill? …Getting together with family and friends? …Going out to watch fireworks? I don’t specifically remember not watching fireworks any year, but I’m sure there was a year or two missed in there somewhere. When we lived in town, we could see them from our house. Fireworks is what I think of first when I think ‘4th of July’, then I think of my oldest brother (Happy Birthday, Tom!), then I think of grilling and burgers and brats. I know, with having a cooking blog, you’d think grilling and all would be first on my list.

Speaking of grilling, I’m sure we’ll be doing some. Here are some of our favorites:

Hot dogs, our favorites are Ball Park beef franks…

Brats, it’s gotta be Johnsonville…

Cheeseburger, this has got to go on the menu this weekend! I’ll have to talk to the guy in charge of grilling around here…

New York Strip Steak, and please don’t forget the sauteed mushrooms! Mmmmm…4th-new-york-strip.jpg

Rib-Eye Steak done medium, this was melt-in-your-mouth tender, didn’t even need A1 sauce…4th-rib-eye-medium.jpg

Shrimp and mushrooms grilled on skewers, a great appetizer…

Pork chop sandwich, last but definitely not least! This is the thing out of this whole list that we grill the most. Yup, even more than throwing hot dogs and brats on the grill. Maybe next time we make them, I can remember to get a better picture! They’re easy, at least for me, because all I do is set the table…

And then I couldn’t let the holiday go by without playing around with my beloved for-any-occassion layered finger jello! It’s a nice side benefit that it tastes good, too.
Instead of using a 9×13 pan for a batch, I used a large cookie sheet with sides so it wouldn’t get so thick. The red and blue layers each have 2 batches of jello in them and the white layer is all of the white mixture (as opposed to dividing it in thirds). When I cut it into little shapes, it looks better if it’s not so thick.

4th-stars-flipped.jpg And then you can play around with it a little more and makes squares and cut a star out of the middle, flip it over, and put it back into the hole.


And then you can play around with it a little more and make the United States of America…

And, being in the spirit of things, this is what I was snacking on just now as I wrote this post…
Red strawberries, white sugar, and blue blueberries.

Have a safe and happy holiday!


10 Responses to “It’s Independence Day!”

  1. Shannon on July 4th, 2008 7:11 am

    Oh the food looks good. But then it always does here. :) I love that jello, looks too cool in the stars and the states.

  2. Jo on July 4th, 2008 8:46 am

    Did you SERIOUSLY do that map of the U.S. in jello????? I am in complete awe. May I have your autograph? ;-)
    I was going to do layered jello like that to send w/ my husband to OH for their big doin’s tonight…but changed my mind & did a layered jello cake instead. Red on the bottom, blue on the top, iced w/ the old stand-by Cool Whip. So simple…just hope it tastes good! (since I won’t be there to check) Happy 4th!

  3. Marilyn on July 4th, 2008 3:11 pm

    love the finger jello, esp the stars, those are so cool! my kids would love them. Happy 4th of July to you too! :-)

  4. Mary Faith on July 4th, 2008 3:32 pm

    I decided to google “red, white,and blue finger jello” to find a recipe and guess what? The very first site that came up was this one. LOL It took me back to the recipe you had on here. I had forgotten you had the recipe before. So cool. :)

  5. Kay on July 4th, 2008 5:01 pm

    Mary Faith, sorry I didn’t get here to answer your question! Glad you found the answer in the meantime! :) Hope it turns out good for you!

    To get to the recipe from this post, the words “layered finger jello” in bold red up there between the pork chop and the finger jello pictures is a link to the recipe. Also, the names of some of those grilling pictures are in red… those are also links to their respective recipes.

  6. stephanie on July 5th, 2008 7:04 am

    Whoa lady! The United States? How in the world did you do that?
    Love the stars and the whole Ble, Red and White theme who were the lucky recipients of the gourmet atmosphere?

  7. Jan on July 5th, 2008 7:42 am

    Map of the US???I’m in awe. I’m not artistic so I’m always wowed by those who are. The stars are cute, too.
    I also love the photos of the little cooks in the cherry pie post. For some reason, Tiffany just cracks me up! And Lexi looks so grown up in the apron.

  8. Berneice on July 5th, 2008 8:46 pm

    Like the rest. I stand (sorry,I sit) amazed! Did you really do that map? How in the world?? Happy belated 4th

  9. Katie Mast on July 6th, 2008 7:38 am

    Happy July 4th to you. That Map is incrediable. I have a mold for that as well, but never did it like that. How did you do that? I love the star shape idea and the sq. how cool is that! I am making your meat loaf recipe for lunch today, it has become one of our favorites as well.

  10. Mary Faith on July 7th, 2008 12:34 pm

    I did the star shaped finger jello for the weekend. Took it to Cheyenne on Sat. and then again to the carry in yesterday. (I made how many batches on Fri. to make it enough!) It was definitely a big hit both places. I took some of the “scraps” along to Cheyenne and the children ate those quite freely. :) All that’s left here is a few more “scraps”.

It’s conversation hearts!

Did you ever have brainstorms hit you while laying in bed at night and can’t go to sleep? …


This is a fun way to spend alot of time not doing much!

Bake an angel food cake (I used a cake mix) in a jelly roll pan lined with tin foil, not greased. Bake the cake for about 20 min. Flip upside down onto another piece of tin foil. Let cool for at least a half hour. Cut hearts out of the cake with a 1 1/2″ cookie cutter. Don’t go too close to the edge or it won’t cut through well.
hearts6 I got 65 hearts out of it, but I’m sure I could’ve got more.

Make a glaze… put some powdered sugar in a bowl and add a little vanilla, then add milk little by little and beat with a wire whisk until it seems about the right consistency to glaze, but not too thin that you can see the cake thro’ it.
To glaze the hearts, put them on a wire rack with Saran wrap underneath to catch the drippings. Divide the glaze into however many different colors you want, then add a drop of food coloring to it. I’m out of green and blue food coloring, so I had to make do with yellow and red.

Spoon the glaze over the hearts.

To make sure all the sides get covered, get more glaze on the spoon and pat it around the outside.
hearts3 It took me about 30 – 45 seconds to do one heart… the sloppier you are, the faster it goes, the funner it is, and the more glaze you waste.

Now they’re all glazed… I wonder how many times I said, “Don’t touch!” this morning…

Now, copy off of the real conversation hearts or think of your own and write on them with red frosting (I mixed up regular buttercream frosting for that, not glaze). I just used a plastic sandwich bag and cut off a tiny part of the corner… my writing tip would’ve been too big.


After the cake was cooled, total time to make these was about 3 hours. If you like the idea, you could do them in a morning. I think they’d look kinda cute to scatter around down the middle of the table for a Valentines meal. They actually look cuter in real life than on the pictures. I’m going to scrapbooking in a few minutes and am taking them along. Should be a hit with the kids!


Valentines Meal 2008

Every year, my family gets together to do a Valentines meal. Mom started it just for fun when we were little… I first remember it when I was 5 or 6 years old and I’m 2nd to the oldest of 6 children. We pretty much had the same menu every year until the last few years, when we started varying it. But, this year, we decided that next year will be the traditional menu again that we had growing up. I’m really looking forward to it!

Now, back to this year…

This was a place setting…  uh, yeah, we did have a couple fires start from those little tea light candles beside the plates!


In the red tulle is a snack mix combo…
The cupcake dessert is strawberry mousse in a whit chocolate cup.

And here is our menu…

Pizza… the first ones were staying warm by the fire while the others were in the oven.

Breadsticks… I had a hard time getting a good picture of these, and I’m adding the second picture because I think the dish is SO neat… isn’t it?! My sister-in-law got it at Kohls I think she said, for those of you who would ask in the comments.
vtines4 vtines7

Salad… there is lettuce under all that good stuff!

Layered finger jello…

Fruit pizza for dessert…

A couple things that made us laugh during the meal…

1. Every other goblet had a strawberry on the rim and every other one had a lime slice. One of the guys happened to get a lime instead of a strawberry and said, “I’d rather have a strawberry than a pickle on my goblet.” After we all laughed, one of the other guys said, “I don’t see what’s so funny. Mine does have a strawberry, but I’d rather have a strawberry too.”

2. There were 2 fruit pizzas and one was on a Pampered Chef pizza stone. As it was being passed, one of the guys (not one of the ones in laugh #1) said, “What is this on? A concrete platter?”

And just some bonus pictures yet…

The pizza crew…

The salad-maker and her husband…

10-day-old Nicole in her Valentines sleeper…

The table… although this picture doesn’t capture the effect and lighting very well at all, and you can’t hear the fireplace crackling…

My dau Tiffany ‘wow’ing over her Valentine from Grandpa.


Traditional Scandinavian Christmas Eve Dinner

Posted on January 3, 2008
Filed Under Holiday cooking

This was definitely a highlight of 2007! Seth and Kris and Seth’s sister Melinda cooked a Scandinavian meal for our family on Christmas Eve. Seth and Mel are part Norwegian.

Here’s a sample of the meal…

Starting at the top is Swedish Meatballs…
scandinavian swedish meatballsThese were really good, and tasted pretty ‘American’.

Next (going clock-wise) is Lefse…
scandinavian lefseWe spread butter on it, like you do on bread, rolled it up and ate it. I could’ve eaten more of this!

Next is Swedish Tea Ring and cheese…
scandinavian tea ringThese were as good as they looked, comparable to glazed cinnamon rolls.

Next is Fauteemons (the English term for that is ‘love knots’)…
scandinavian fauteemonsThis was a pastry-type thing with powdered sugar on. Tiffany ate several of these! They were really good!

Next is just a piece of cheese from the tea ring plate.

Next is Christmas Potato Casserole…
scandinavian potatoesThis was my favorite! I’m not sure if it is a Scandinavian food, but Kris said her MIL makes it along with the meal. I don’t know what all was in it, but it was SO good!

Next is Cream of Mush…
scandinavian cream of mushThis was really good too, but a little more bland. It’s rice and a bunch of milk, simmered for a few hours. The rice gets so soft that the grains aren’t recognizable anymore. The dish is coated with thick cooked cream, then the mush is poured in and butter drizzled over.

And in the middle is Lutefisk…
scandinavian lutefiskThe first clue that you might not want to take alot of this is the smell!  I took a very small portion and wasn’t tempted at all with seconds! It’s a very strong fish flavor. It seemed pretty common that people don’t like it until they acquire a taste for it.

Butter, butter, butter!!!!
scandinavian butterThis was a dish of melted butter on the table to drizzle over the lutefisk (it needed all the help it could get! ) and over the cream of mush. Lots of butter was used with this meal… mmmmm!!!

And 2 more things that I didn’t get a picture of with the rest of the meal are the orange salad…
scaninavian orange
and the Triple Layer Chocolate Silk Pie…
scandinavian pie
scandinavian pie piece
These were not traditional, they were just to go with the meal… like we needed more food! I think Kris actually invented the silk pie recipe.

Just a couple extra pictures yet…

scandinavian tableThe table is set.

scandinavian cookingCooking the meal… Seth and Melinda. I didn’t get a good picture of Kris, who actually made most of the meal.

Are any of you familiar with any of these foods? I’m thinking about moving over to Sweden or Norway!

I think we’ve started a Christmas tradition of our own!

Making and decorating gingerbread men … plus! (We didn’t just stick to the men.) After the cookies were baked and cooled, but before we decorated them, I told Shannon that it never occurred to me that I don’t actually know how to do this! I hadn’t decorated cookies for YEARS!!! So anyway, don’t laugh too hard! Here are some of them…


My aunt Ruthie makes the best gingerbread cookies around, so I got the recipe from her. It actually comes from the Mennonite Community Cookbook.

Old Fashioned Ginger Cookies (Leb Kuchen) That’s how the recipe title is written… makes it seem authentic, doesn’t it? 

2 cups shortening, melted
3 cups sorghum molasses
1 cup sugar
8 – 10 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. soda
1 Tbsp. ginger
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 cups buttermilk or sour milk

Heat molasses and sugar together. When sugar is dissolved, add shortening and stir until melted. Remove from heat. Cool to lukewarm. Sift flour, soda, salt, and spices together. Add sifted dry ingredients alternately with sour milk. Stir until a medium-soft dough is formed.
Work dough with hands for 5 min. Let chill in refrigerator for several hours. (They’re not kidding about that. It’s a soft dough. Ruthie said she usually lets it chill overnight.) Turn dough onto lightly floured board and roll 1/4″ thick. Cut with large round cookie cutter.
Glaze with a beaten egg; dip a small piece of cheesecloth in beaten egg and rub lightly over cookie. Place 1″ apart on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 20 – 25 min. (I didn’t bake them quite 20 min.)  This is the soft chewy cookie that was a favorite of grandmother’s day. It is still very popular among many Mennonite families. (I didn’t write that, it says that right in the recipe.) Makes 8 dozen large cookies.

Then, let the decorating begin!


Deck the halls, er, table…


This recipe comes from the Derstine cookbook. I had forgotten about these cookies and happened to see the recipe while flipping thro’ the cookbook. I remember Mom making them when I was young. As Lexi (5) and I were making them, I told her that my mom made these when I was a little girl. And she said, “And now my mom is making them when I’m a little girl!”

Holly Cookies

32 lg marshmallows
1 stick margarine
(I used butter)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 tsp green food coloring
4 cups Cornflakes
Red cinnamon candies
(I used M&Ms because I couldn’t find Red Hots at the store)

Melt marshmallows and margarine in saucepan over low heat. Mix in flavorings and food coloring. Pour quickly over cornflakes in large bowl. Stir until coated. Butter hands well. Working quickly, shape into cookies on wax paper spread on a cookie sheet. Decorate with cinnamon candies before cookies harden. Ok, so she got a little carried away with the decorating!
Allow 2 days
(????????) to dry. Please tell me it’s a misprint that should say ‘hours’ instead of ‘days’. These cookies may not even live to see 2 days! And they definitely seem hard enough.

Change of subject… I was at our Walmart Supercenter today and was looking for 2 things that I couldn’t find: molasses and red hots. I looked in the baking aisle for molasses and there was a stocker there, so I asked her, and it was over with the syrup. Then I thought Duh, I should’ve thought of that. And the red hots, I looked in the candy section, the baking aisle, and the cake decorating aisle. Never did find them. Another thing that kinda surprised me a few years ago was the food coloring. I looked in the cake decorating section and in the cake mix/frosting aisle. Nope, over with the spices. That’s one thing nice about shopping online, you never have to look all over for exactly what you want… as my husband says, “Google knows everything”.

Christmas cookie baking/candy making 2007

cookies all

Liz, Lin, Ruthie, Sandra, Lourdes, and I all got together for a cookie/candy exchange. Ah, so fun!!!! All that good stuff sitting there. And it’s fun to see what everyone is making. And you take home a nice assortment of stuff for no more effort than you put into it.

I don’t even know what everything was called, but it’s all on the picture up there. There were 2 kinds of fudge (peppermint and chocolate). The chocolate fudge didn’t last long around here.  It was my top pick of everything! I think Linda made it. There were several different kinds of cookies, some buttermints, choc covered Ritz sandwiches, caramel/chocolate candy, mice , and choc dipped pretzels.

Lourdes and Liz making buttermints…
cookie mints

The best part… dividing it all up. Lourdes, Liz, and Sandra.
cookie exchange

In the afternoon, Sandra and Ruthie made blended coffees for us all. I shared mine with Tiffany and then she didn’t want to give it up…
cookie frap

I’ll feature my 3 contributions to the cookie/candy exchange…

They are all taken from Taste of Home Christmas Cookies and Candies.

Envelopes of Fudge
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 pkg (3 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup baking cocoa
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and cream cheese. Gradually add the flour. On a lightly floured surface, knead until smooth, about 3 minutes. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours or until easy to handle. For filling, combine the sugar, cocoa, butter, vanilla and salt. Stir in walnuts, set aside. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 12 1/2″ square; cut into 2 1/2″ squares.
cookie env1
Place a rounded teaspoonful of filling in center of each square (I piped the filling on). Bring 2 opposite corners to center. Moisten the edges with water and pinch together.
cookie env2
Place 1″ apart on lightly greased baking sheets. Bake at 350 for 18-22 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool. Yield: 25 cookies.
cookie env3

Yeah, there were a few flops! It works better to pinch the corners together, then fold them down and pinch again.

Christmas Eve Mice
24 Oreos
1 cup choc chips
1 tsp shortening
24 maraschino cherries with stems, well drained
24 chocolate kisses
48 sliced almonds
green decorating gel
red decorating gel

Everyone else was done, so they helped me do these. They were kinda fun to do and we got some laughs out of the deformities, but it does look easier than it is! Here are Lin and Ruthie working on them…
cookie miceCarefully twist cookies apart; set aside the halves with cream filling. Save plain halves for another use. In a microwave, melt choc chips and shortening; stir until smooth. Holding each cherry by the stem, dip in melted chocolate, then press onto the bottom of a kiss. Place on the cream filling of cookie, with cherry stem extending beyond cookie edge. For ears, place slivered almonds between the cherry and kiss. Refrigerate until set. With green gel, pipe holly leaves on the cream. With red gel, pipe berries between leaves and pipe eyes on each chocolate kiss.
cookie mice2Store in an airtight container at room temp. Yield: 2 dozen.

Ice Cream Sundae Caramels
2 cups sugar
2 cups (16 oz) dark corn syrup
2 cups (1 pint) vanilla ice cream, melted, divided
1 cup butter
8 oz choc candy coating
1/2 cup peanuts, finely chopped

In a heavy 4-qt saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, 1 cup ice cream and butter. Cook and stir over low heat until mixture boils. Increase heat to medium; cook and stir until candy thermometer reads 242 (nearly firm-ball stage).
cookie caramel1Remove from heat; gradually stir in remaining ice cream. Return to heat; cook without stirring to 244 (firm-ball stage). Immediately pour, without stirring, into a buttered 9×13 pan. Let cool until firm. Invert candy onto a baking sheet. Melt candy coating; spread over candy. Sprinkle with nuts. Cut into 1″ squares. Yield: About 3 1/2 pounds.
cookie caramel2

Butterball or Jennie-o?

…Which brand are you cooking on Thanksgiving Day?


I was just in line at the grocery store and overheard this conversation:
Cashier, as she was ringing up a Butterball turkey: “Butterball. Good choice.”
Customer, who was a man that looked to be in his late 50s: “It’s the best.”
Lady customer (not me ), standing in line behind the man: “Butterball is better than Jennie-o?”
I forget from there, but the male customer and the cashier were all but talking over each other, telling the lady customer how much better flavor Butterball is and how dry Jennie-o is compared to Butterball.

I have no clue which is better, but was surprised how strong both of them felt about Butterball. What’s your opinion? Do you feel strong about a certain brand being the best?


One Response to “Butterball or Jennie-o?”

  1. Emory Safford on November 18th, 2011 11:05 pm

    I believe it’s more a matter of how it’s cooked regardless of brand. Locally here in MN Jenni O is on sale for .68 a pound. Butterball is 1.09 a lb. Now if the turkeys cooked in a roasting bag inside a roasting pan at a lower temperature I find they generally turn out moist and delicious regardless of brand. Bottom line get the one that’s on sale!

Valentines Meal 2007

I know this is now very out of season, but…

Featuring: Our family Valentines meal (for a bit of history, go to the next page to the Feb 11 post).

Cupid breadsticks
Robust Italian Salad w tomato roses
Red hot salad
Broken Glass Salad
White Chocolate Mousse
Cheesecake (regular and mocha)

Here’s the action…
vtines action

Breadsticks… it’s Pillsbury popable breadsticks, shaped into hearts and arrows. Don’t ya love the towel? That would be Kris’… she’s crazy about coffee. She made the breadsticks…
vtines bread

Lasagna… We all brought ingredients for the lasagna and Kris put it together. She put a heart shaped tin foil piece on before putting the last layer of cheese on. Then when it was done baking, Seth took the tin foil off and this is how it looked…
vtines lasagna

Robust Italian Salad… I made this…
vtines salad
The tomato roses were easier than I thought they’d be. I discovered the secret is to peel the tomatoes as thin as you can. Here’s a closer up of a rose…
vtines rose

Red hot salad… Galyn made it. (She also made a sugar-free cherry delight for Tom for dessert, which I don’t have a picture of)…
vtines redhot salad

Broken glass salad… Kris made it…
vtines broken glass salad

Punch… Bruce and Sheila made the punch… I brought strawberries for the goblets (actually an idea off of th3rdtimesacharm’s site)…
vtines punch

White Chocolate mousse… Kris made it…
vtines mousse

Cheesecake… these were set between each couple and we shared them. There were also regular round cheesecakes for the unmarrieds and for seconds. Bruce made all the cheesecakes…
vtines cheesecake

Candy baskets on the table… I think Sheila did those… actually, most of the decorations are Sheila’s…
vtines candy basket

A place setting…
vtines table setting We ate by candlelight. Partway thro’ the meal, Sheila put more candles on.  There is always no end to jokes from the guys about not being able to see what they’re eating, etc. Last year, Tom and Shannon got their cell phones out, lit the little screen, and propped them up beside their plates for extra light. It’s actually plenty bright. Dad says he likes it because it saves on electricity and heating. That’s the type of things we have to put up with from the guys.

Mom is busy with school teaching, so this year Sheila, Galyn, Kris, and I did the meal, but it was at Mom and Dad’s house. Dan and Jan couldn’t make it because they just had a baby. For those of you who know our family, but are wondering who Seth and Kris are… they’re ‘part of our family’. They fit right in and it would seem very weird without them!

Valentine’s Day is this week!

Posted on February 11, 2007
Filed Under Cakes, Holiday cooking, Salads

I just thought about it that I should’ve done a little Valentine’s meal in advance in case anyone wants ideas. For as long as I can remember, Mom made a heart-shaped meal every Valentine’s Day. Even after we children started getting married, it has stayed a tradition and we still get together for it. It’s often heart-shaped meatloaf, scalloped potatoes with heart-shaped potato slices on top, salad with heart-shaped cheese and meat in it, bread slices cut out in heart shapes, red punch, candy favors and jellos beside each plate, and a chocolate cake with caramel and white mtn icing. But, we’re not stuck on the same menu. One year we made heart-shaped pizzas. Here are a couple pictures of the table from the last couple years. I didn’t have good pictures of the food… I wasn’t into food photography then yet.   When we have our meal this year, I’ll be sure to get good pictures and put them on here.
vtines05 2005
vtines06 2006
Krista and Lexi with their Valentine chocolates from Grandpa.


And now for a couple recipes…  We had carry-in/fellowship meal/potluck at church today. I, wanting to be in the Valentine’s mood, made a couple things that were red and pink. I was on for salad and dessert.

Easy Cottage Cheese Salad    …From the Magnolia Cookery cookbook.

This is not kidding when it says ‘easy’! Here are the ingredients:
salad ingred A can of pineapple, a 3 oz box of jello (any flavor), a carton of Cool Whip, and a carton of cottage cheese.
One thing that makes it easy is that everything is all measured for you because you use it all.
Mix cottage cheese with dry jello. Mix well. Let set 5 min. Drain juice from fruit, then add to cottage cheese. Fold in the Cool Whip. Best when refrigerated 1 hour before serving. I really like this stuff!!!! But, no other comments from the other people in this household, please… they don’t feel quite the same about it as I do.
salad done

Red Velvet Cake     …From an Easy to Bake, Easy to Make recipe card

2 1/4 c. flour
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, softened
2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
1 c. buttermilk
1 Tbsp. white vinegar
1 Tbsp. red food coloring
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cans (16 oz each) prepared cream cheese frosting, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350. Coat the bottoms of two 9″ round cake pans with cooking spray. Place 1st 6 ingredients into large bowl of electric mixer. Mix on low speed, scraping bowl, until mixture resembles moist crumbs. Add eggs, buttermilk, vinegar, red food coloring, and vanilla and mix on low speed until dry ingredients are moistened. Beat on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  (I wish I would’ve taken a picture of the unbaked batter, it looks pretty neat.)   Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, 25-30 minutes. Remove cakes from oven and cool in pans on wire racks for 10 min. Turn cakes on to racks to cool completely. Stir frosting in cans to fluff the contents. With a spatula, loosen cakes from pans. Invert one layer onto plate.
red1 You can tell part of it is cut away… I do that to make it as level as possible. Plus, it gives some extra cake to make crumbs to go on top.  Spread with 2/3 cup frosting. Place second layer on top.
Spread top and sides with remaining frosting.
 It is SO good! People rave about it every time! It’s moist and soft. I usually make my own cream cheese frosting, but this time (because I like to try to make things as accurately as possible to feature on here) I bought it, like the recipe says. And, it just isn’t as good as homemade frosting!

I thought about baking it in heart-shaped pans, but didn’t then. If you make it for V-tines Day, you could do that OR bake it regular, then cut out heart-shaped pieces with a cookie cutter, then layer and frost them for individual serving sizes. That would look kind of cute sitting beside each plate.

Christmas cookie baking/candy making day 2006

We made cookies and candy, then divided it all out between us. This is the rich assortment I brought home.
baking asst

baking asst2 Same assortment. Different angle.
If you wonder what a specific kind is or what it’s made of or want the recipe, just ask. I don’t know the names of everything, but I’ll find out if you want to know.          So far, Shannon’s favorites are the snickerdoodles and peanut butter balls, my favorites are the turtles and those pretzel chocolate pecan things, and Lexi’s favorites are the choc covered Ritz & peanut butter sandwiches and the frosted sugar cookies. We didn’t all taste everything yet.

Cooking, baking, melting, coating, measuring, stirring, cutting, icing, snitching …
baking lin Linda stirring away at something. She had to cook that stuff for 5 min and when Izzy cried, the deal was that one of us either had to take care of the baby or keep stirring her stuff while she took the baby… going by the picture, guess which was picked.

baking cooks  There’s Linda again, front and center… sorry, didn’t try that! Looks like Sandra is dying laughing about something at the sink… can tell it even more on my bigger original picture.

baking tableful Getting things done and we’ve got something to show for it!

baking ruthiesue  Ruthie Sue making frosting… her own special wouldn’t-want-to-eat-it-anymore recipe. She is 7 (right, Rufusannie? it’s her dau) and looked for work in the kitchen several times throughout the day… a budding cook!

I think I got warped because on my way home, I glanced at the clock in my car and did a double-take and it took me a couple seconds to clear my head and realize that no, an oven wasn’t on… the clock said 3:50.


Now, I’m going to feature the 3 things I made that day…

Candy Cane Cookies
Peanut Butter Balls
Rice Crispy Roll

Candy Cane Cookies     …recipe from the 2006 Quick Cooking Annual Recipes cookbook

1/2 tube refrigerated sugar cookie dough, softened
2 Tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/2 teaspoon red food coloring

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cookie dough, flour, and extract until smooth. Divide dough in half; mix food coloring into one portion. Shape one teaspoon of white dough into a 6″ rope. Shape 1 teaspoon of red dough into a 6″ rope. I rolled them with my hands. Next time, I want to try piping them with a cake decorating bag… I think that would be easier and they’d get more even. Place ropes side by side; press together lightly and twist.

Place on an ungreased baking sheet; curve one end of cookie to form handle of cane. Repeat with remaining dough, placing 2″ apart on baking sheets. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes or until set. Cool for 2 min before carefully removing to wire racks. Yield: 3 dozen.

baking candy canes  I forgot to take progress pictures of these. I’ll make a batch every year and maybe get better with time! Mine didn’t get very even and I got so tired of making those crazy little ropes!!! But they are very festive-looking and they taste great too!

The next 2 recipes I found on vernam06’s site. You’ll love her site… she posts LOTS of pictures… in my opinion, that makes the best kind of site! There are pics of their Christmas baking day, of her sweet funny busy grandchildren, and more pics of this and that. Always interesting!

Peanut Butter Balls

1 1/2 lbs powered sugar
1 lb peanut butter
1/2 lb butter

Mix all together and dip in chocolate.

baking pb balls  Here’s kind of a progress all-in-one picture. The light balls are ready to be dipped, the dark ones are done. This recipe was easy and fun and so good! I think I’ll make more before Christmas! They’re not sticking around here too well!

Rice Crispy Roll

1 bag of lg marshmallows
1/4 c. butter
1/4 c. peanut butter
5 1/2 c. rice crispy cereal

Melt together first 3 ingredients,
baking rc1
mix in rice crispies. Press in jelly roll pan. Melt together 1 1/3 c. chocolate chips and 3/4 c. butterscotch chips. Spread on rice crispie mixture.
baking rc2

Roll up as jelly roll and cool at least 1 hour.
baking rc3  These are just tops! I still enjoy rice crispie candy every bit as much as I did as a kid. This roll adds a different twist to them, esp with the filling! YUM!!!