I don’t know a mom who hasn’t struggled with getting her children to eat what she made for dinner!
Who hasn’t heard, “I don’t like that!”
My children usually throw a fit until I give in and let them have cereal, though it has become a bad habit. They have learned that they don’t have to eat what I’ve cooked.
So I’m turning the tables, so to speak, and letting them help more with dinner. It is true that if your child fixes even just a part of the meal, then they are most likely going to eat… which is what we want!
A few weeks ago we made saltine and mustard baked chicken breasts, baked carrot fries, and strawberry yogurt smoothies! It was simple and fun. We used fresh herbs from our garden which gave the chicken and carrots a great taste. I must say that my baked chicken usually is bland… but this was fantastic and full of flavor.
My 7 year-old’s statement after dinner was, “Can we have this every week?”
If you are looking for a cookbook for children, try these!
It sounds like a hard thing to do, but tempering chocolate on the stove really isn’t a mystery. It is actually easy and worth it to temper your own chocolate than to buy those waxy chips that you can melt in the microwave.
I spent last Thursday trying it for the first time for a practice run for this evening’s chocolate dipping class that my mother-in-law was teaching to some of the ladies from our church women’s group. My mother-in-law usually uses her chocolate tempering machine that is pretty expensive, but when you dip thousands of chocolates at Christmas time like she does, you kind of need the machine.
But if you are like me and only want to make a couple dozen homemade chocolates for a holiday or special occasion, then you’ll want to know how to temper chocolate on the stove.
With my one year blog anniversary this month, I thought I would showcase a few of my food posts that some of my new readers may have missed. The topics range from comfort food to tips on getting back to basics in the kitchen.
There is nothing more basic than making Chocolate Chip cookies! Once you make a homemade batch, you’ll never go back to store bought!
My Grandma passed away a few months ago, this month she would have turned 91. She left behind a legacy of motherly and grandmotherly love and her famous chocolate chip cookies.
Her cookies were the best. They were just the perfect size. They weren’t too flat or too fat. They were crisp on the outside, yet chewy on the inside. They went great with a tall glass of milk. She always had them waiting for us when we came to visit.
Years ago when I asked her what her secret recipe was, she said it wasn’t so secret.
All she did was make the Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, but she used Crisco instead of butter or margarine.
I certainly would not have thought it was that simple. I’ve made the Toll House recipe for years, but with margarine and sometimes butter (…never having them end up looking like the picture on the Toll House website).
My Grandma’s cookies had a completely different look, taste, and texture. So a few months ago I tried her recipe using the Crisco, and guess what?
This year I came across the Melting Snowman Sugar Cookies and I just knew I had to have those as the centerpiece to my annual Christmas Cookie Plates I take to my neighbors and friends each year.
My 4 year-old son helped with turning my mixer on and off and pouring in ingredients while I measured them out. My husband helped with the baking of most of the cookies as I was multi-tasking too much and burned my arm on a cookie sheet. He was a REALLY BIG HELP! The girls arranged cookie plates and taped on tags. And my 13 year old son he likes to help deliver and eat them! The Christmas Cookie Plates are a family affair!
As usual I started out BIG and had planned on putting 16 pieces of cookie and candy on the plates, but as time started getting short it was reduced to 12 and then some down to 10 as we ran out of a few things.
We did go BIG on delivering this year and plan on delivering about 50 plates of cookies! My children even said they will sing a Christmas carol to some of the homes as we drop them off. Last night the children “doorbell ditched” some, but of course they had a Christmas label I made using the business card template on Microsoft Publisher that said “Merry Christmas” and our name.
Snowballs remind me of childhood. My mom made them every year and they are always on my cookie plate. Sometimes they are called Russian Tea Cake Cookies or Mexican Wedding Cakes. I like them with nuts, but my family doesn’t, so mine are plain.
PEANUT BUTTER BLOSSOMS
These happen to be one of my favorites as I love the combination of chocolate and peanut butter! I got the recipe from Nordic Ware The Great Cookie Book, but you can find basically the same recipe at Christmas-Cookies.com: Peanut Blossoms. I chill my dough a little before scooping and rolling into balls to help it not stick to me or the scooper. Don’t bake the Hershey’s Kiss with the cookie, make sure you put is on right after you take them out of the oven.
BUTTER RICH SPRITZ BUTTER COOKIES
I have a cookie press and thought I would make them as they usually go pretty quick. However, I lost the recipe and had to get one from the internet. I found this recipe at Allrecipes.com. It was easy to make and handle, though it didn’t want to stick to my parchment paper and so I ended up peeling them off the bottom of the press most of the time. This picture is actually of some of the better ones. I either need a new press or a new recipe. Anyone have suggestions? Leave me a comment below! Thanks!
AMISH GINGER COOKIES
This is my husband’s favorite cookie. I never would have made these before I was married, but since he liked ginger cookies I gave it a try and I use this recipe every year. I make them larger than suggested (about 1 inch balls) and then I bake them for 13 minutes, otherwise they will be too raw inside.
This is another recipe from Nordic Ware The Great Cookie Book. We really liked them, but here is my improved recipe for them. You can always omit the orange and macadamia nuts and get the cookie that is pictured.
Cranberry Orange Macadamia Coconut Crinkles
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange zest, or zest from 1 orange
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried cranberries
1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
1 cup macadamia nuts, chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a mixer cream together the butter, sugar, vanilla, and orange zest. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together and then mix it into the creamed mixture. Stir in the cranberries, coconut, and macadamia nuts. Scoop and roll into large 1 inch balls. Bake for 16 minutes.
Chocolate with a dusting of powdered sugar is a must! The recipe again came from Nordic Ware The Great Cookie Book, but you can find one here, however replace the melted chocolate with 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder. I have Dutch processed powder, so I used 3/4 cup of Dutch cocoa powder with 1/4 cup of Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa powder and it gave it a wonderfully rich chocolate taste! Don’t forget to roll them in A LOT of powdered sugar before you bake them. I’ve made them in years past and had dusted off most of the powdered sugar before I baked them and it seemed to disappear while baking not giving it that snowy look. So go thick on it!
FANTASY FUDGE (original recipe)
Okay, it isn’t a cookie, but I love fudge! I only make it twice a year. At the holidays I try to decorate the top of it with sprinkles that go with the holiday theme. It makes it much more festive! In years past I have used a candy thermometer to make my fudge. This year I decided I would just do what the recipe said and boil it for 5 minutes and just rely on that. Well, you know what, it worked! I didn’t have to stand there forever stirring it… well, that was mainly because my husband did it for me! LOL! But we weren’t there for hours trying to make it and I make a double batch in a large heavy bottomed pan and then pour it into a 9″x13″ casserole dish that I have lined with wax paper. Next year though I will spray the pan before I put in the wax paper because the fudge was so heavy that I could not lift it out. I think the non-stick spray would have helped it slip a bit. Yummy original Fantasy Fudge recipe using Kraft Marshmallow Creme.
CANDY CANE BARK
This of course isn’t a cookie either, but it is so simple to do. I use a package of white chocolate chips, semi-sweet chocolate chips, candy canes or peppermints crushed, and a drop of peppermint flavoring (optional). I melt the semi-sweet chips in the microwave and then spread the melted chocolate onto a piece of parchment or wax paper on a cookie sheet. I have let it cool all the way, though it really should be a bit wet when you apply the next layer which is the melted white chips. You can add peppermint flavoring to the white chocolate chips before you spread it on the semi-sweet chocolate layer. Then top it while it is wet with the crushed candy cane and jiggle the pan to get the candy cane pieces to settle just a little into the white chocolate. Let it dry and then break it into pieces. Very fast and simple.
MELTED SNOWMAN COOKIES
This is basically a sugar cookie with white frosting and a slighly melted marshmallow (microwave for almost 10 seconds on a plate sprayed with non-stick spray). You can color some of the white frosting and put it in a plastic bag to pipe out eyes, nose, mouth, buttons, and twig arms. This sugar cookie recipe from Christmas-Cookies.com was one of the best I have tasted, even with multiple times rolling out the dough. I used a canning jar ring to cut out my circles, or you can use the top of a cup or glass.
Sugar Cookie Frosting
1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Mix all ingredients in a mixer until it is of the desired consistency. Tint it with food coloring if desired. (For the brown twigs I added unsweetened cocoa powder to the frosting to get the color I wanted.)
What is your favorite Christmas cookie?
MERRY CHRISTMAS to you and your family from me and mine!
Making homemade caramels is so easy. With some patience, a heavy duty pot, and a good candy thermometer you can whip up a batch of soft and chewy caramels after dinner and they’ll be cool and ready to eat or enrobe in chocolate the next day.
(So, this evening when I came home I found that the caramel took on the shape of the foil cups. So I would recommend if you want the caramel to hold a shape by itself to heat it possibly up to 240 degrees Fahrenheit or up to 248 degrees Fahrenheit. Next time I make some, I’ll let you know how that temperature works out. They still will be great for dipping in chocolate and wrapping in wax paper.)
This homemade caramel recipe would be great for cutting into log shapes and rolling up in wax paper for single servings, or you could dip it in melted chocolate, or combine it with a marshmallow and then dip it in chocolate for a homemade Carmelo!
Soft Chewy Homemade Caramels
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
16 oz. dark corn syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla flavoring
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups whipping cream
Spray a 9″x13″ glass casserole dish* with non-stick spray. Lay a large piece of parchment paper in the dish like a sleeve to pour the caramel on once cooked. Make sure it rises above the sides of the dish so that you can easily lift it out once it has cooled.
In a large heavy pot on medium heat, stir together all ingredients except whipping cream. I stirred constantly. (I used a silicon spatula to stir with.)
Bring the ingredients to a boil and then slowly stir in the whipping cream. Continue stirring over the medium heat until your candy thermometer reaches 240 degrees Fahrenheit (soft ball stage). This will take possibly 30 minutes. I found that my temperature would rise more if I took a very short break from stirring every once in a while. Be patient!
As soon as it hits the correct temperature, pour it into the prepared casserole dish and let it sit until it cools down. I let mine sit overnight.
Once it is cooled, you can lift out the large rectangle of caramel and use a hot dry knife to cut logs or squares of caramel.
*If you want thicker caramel, then use a 8″x8″ glass casserole dish.
I have fond memories of the ooey gooey sweet baked yams covered in melted toasted marshmallows, brown sugar, and butter with the hint of salt that smelled heavenly and was served every Thanksgiving on my side of the family. You can bet I always had seconds on them and there was never enough.
When I got married I was introduced to another way to serve yams. At first I thought it looked like baby food. I wasn’t sure I really wanted to try it even though it had some marshmallows on top. But my husband insisted that his grandmother’s yams were the best. So I tried them as any good new granddaughter-in-law would do. There was something in them that was different, besides the texture on my tongue. There was a flavor of citrus, orange to be exact. It tasted wonderfully refreshing!
This year I’m incharge of bringing the sweet potatoes to Thanksgiving dinner on my husband’s side of the family. As I have found out over the years, no one can ever beat grandma’s cooking. So I found a recipe similar to her recipe called Sweet Potato Orange Cups on the Taste of Home website that has great presentation to Oooh! and Ahhh! everyone. Don’t they look cute?!
How are the yams or sweet potatoes served at your Thanksgiving?
Sweet potatoes with a hint of orange. A refreshing taste to balance out the sweetness.
6 yams, skin on
6 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons orange juice concentrate
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
32 miniature marshmallows (optional)
8 large oranges (optional)
Bake yams in a foil lined pan at 350 degrees F for about 40 to 45 minutes until tender.
Cool and peel yams.
Whip yams and all other ingredients, except marshmallows, in a mixer until smooth. (Caution: If the yams are too hard you could break your mixer. Make sure they are thoroughly baked.)
Reheat in the oven for 30 to 45 minutes.
Optional: For the last 5 minutes of baking, top with marshmallows and bake until lightly toasted.
You can always use grandma’s recipe and serve them in orange cups. Cut each orange in half and scoop out the inside to create a bowl. When the yams are reheated, scoop into orange halves that are arranged on a baking sheet. Top with marshmallows and bake until marshmallows are toasted. For the children or smaller portions, try using “cutie” oranges.