Tuesday, December 29


This morning I made baked oatmeal with diced apple in it.  Why don't I make this more often?  I'd forgotten how good it is.  And I would rather my kids eat that than boxed cereal.  I need to get back in the habit.

Sunday, December 27

Quick and easy "fruitcake"

I posted about this on my mama blog. I made this fruitcake recipe from King Arthur Flour a week or so ago. I didn't let the loaf cool enough before trying to get it out of the pan so some stuck to the bottom. There's nothing more tempting to a family of pickers than a warm loaf of something with little bits missing from the bottom. I mean, if you pick a little no one will really notice, right? Not until half the loaf is gone anyway!

So on Christmas Eve, I made a double batch. We do still have one loaf intact, but there are a lot of other treats around too. Again, I tried to get it out of the pan too soon (the 20 minutes the recipe advises is not enough time), but no one cares around here.

This fruitcake isn't really traditional at all. It is very heavy and dense. But it's missing some of the traditional fruitcake ingredients like candied fruits and peels. It is full of dried fruits and nuts. My family really loves it. It's not too sweet, and I'm sure that could be adjusted to your taste by adding more or less sugar, and it has a really nice flavor. It is quite filling and a yummy snack with some hot tea.

I'm sure it will be added to the regular list of holiday baking.

Thursday, December 24

some new holiday baking

Along with the traditional things I do for the holidays (fudge, truffles, chocolate crinkles, scones), I tried some new recipes this year. They were both HUGE hits.

I didn't have espresso powder, but these coal cookies were yummy anyway! I had to hide them since all the other holiday baking I've done this year has disappeared already! We need to have SOMETHING for Santa tonight. In fact, I had to make the second batch of fudge yesterday.

And I tried to get this fruitcake out of the pan too early so it tore off the bottom a little which prompted the whole family to devour it within a matter of minutes. I'm making a double batch today! I don't do the candied cherries since they have Red dye #40. And I added a mixture of dried apricots, dried cranberries and raisins.

Monday, December 21

another idea for butternut squash

We tend to eat our winter squash in just a couple of different ways. We like it roasted with some honey and cinnamon. Sometimes we branch out and use maple syrup. Or I puree the cooked squash and use it in baked things like bread, muffins, cookies or cake.

But when I was recovering from my appendicitis I had lots of extra TV time. I saw an episode of Lidia's Italian Kitchen where she was doing an easier version of risotto using regular rice. One of the versions had butternut squash. So I made this last week. It was great with just a pork roast. It was our side with starch and vegetable and a different way to use the abundance of winter squash we have right now.

And Lidia was right. The consistency was more like a risotto than a regular rice side dish. Rich and creamy. And very simple, too!

Saturday, December 12

Holiday treats

I've been in the mood to do more holiday baking than in past years. In the last week I've made truffles with Emma, Molasses Cookies, Chocolate Mint Crinkles and then yesterday....

Carmel Corn and fudge!

For the carmel corn, I don't keep brown sugar on hand anymore so I used only 1 c of SuCaNat. It was still plenty sweet. And I did have corn syrup on hand because I keep thinking I'll try to make homemade marshmallows.

The fudge recipe is super easy and fast. And it is becoming Emma's specialty! We only use the walnuts, not the dried fruit or colored cherries. And we spread it in a 8x12 inch pan. Still very yummy!

Friday, December 11

how hard was that?

Wednesday night we had chicken and dumplings for dinner. Sounds impressive, huh? After dinner I was thinking that it was the kind of meal that seems so difficult or time consuming but was so very simple. Here's how it happened.

I had to run errands in the morning and had a meeting in the afternoon, so I put a whole chicken in a big pot with water, some garlic cloves, salt and celery leaves first thing in the morning. (I could have added onion or carrots or any vegetable peels I had but I was in a hurry.) I let it go until about 3 that afternoon when I fished the chicken and bones out of the water. I let them cool in a big bowl for about 20 minutes until I could handle it all. Then I pulled all the meat off the bones and set it aside. I strained the remaining stock to make sure I had all the good bits out of it.

I melted 4 T of butter in my oval dutch oven, then sauteed some onions and added diced carrots. I stirred in 4 T of flour to help thicken it all up later then stirred in the stock from before. I added the chopped chicken back into the pot. I wished I'd had some frozen peas to add. That would have added some nice color, but we settled for only carrots. I stirred in about 1 cup of half and half and then the whole pot simmered for about 20 minutes to begin to thicken up and get the carrots nice and soft. Added some seasoning in there too.

Then Trey helped me mix up the dumpling recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. (We actually tripled the batch!) And he plopped those on top. Lid on, simmered for 15 minutes and we were feasting!

So it didn't take a lot of time. Probably less than an hour of real hands on time, but it was so good and so hearty. I'm glad my kids will grow up knowing that dinner doesn't have to come from a microwave. That they will know that real food is quite easy to prepare with just a few skills.