Thursday, December 28, 2006

Baking cookies for Santa

Here is a cute picture of Grandma and Kinsey baking cookies for Santa. Grandma gave Kinsey the cute apron, rolling pin, and cookie supplies. They had a lot of fun making cookies.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

What? You thought I was going to keep posting like I was before, didn't you? I wish I had but things got in the way. I finished baking, went to Kinsey's Christmas party, we had our Christmas, then we went to my parents for a few days. I've been back 2 days but I had to get groceries, find places for all this stuff, and just rest. One of my New Year's resolutions is going to be that I keep up with posting. I love blogging! Thanks for continuing to read!

What will your New Year's resolution(s) be?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I've decided that our vehicles hate us this week......

It was my turn this time. I was leaving work at lunch today and slid into a huge rock in my bosses driveway. She lives on a hill so you have to drive up or down to get on the road. I went down the steep side (I thought about turning around and going down the other side but noooooo). I started sliding in the packed snow and couldn't get going the right way. I stopped right at the rock and barely touched it--tiny scratch. I couldn't back up or move so I put it in PARK and set the parking brake. I called Neal and he came to pull me out. I thought he would just pull me out but he decided he needed to try and get it out....well he managed to back up then slid INTO the rock. Yep, my front bumper is shattered AGAIN! In less than 3 month my SUV has been hit by a deer, fixed, and messed up again. He did end up pulling me up the hill so I could go down again and not hit the rock this time.
We decided we wouldn't turn it into insurance this time. After looking at our estimate for the deer accident, we figured out we can get it fixed ourselves for cheaper than the deductible. Since it's only the bumper it won't be so bad this time. Maybe the body shop guy needs some plumbing work done...he is building a new house.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Last minute gift

I thought I would post this lotion "recipe" as a last minute gift. My cousin gave me some one year then I found the recipe to make myself. The last few years I made it and gave it out but haven't gotten around to making any this year. It's really good for dry skin.


32 oz baby lotion (you can get the regular scent or try other scents like lavender)
8 oz Fruit of the Earth Vitamin E (oil or cream-I like the cream)
7 oz Vaseline (also available in scents)

Get as close to the sizes as you can. I usually buy my supplies at the dollar store so the ounces vary. I buy the store brands instead of name brand. Use a spatula to get everything out of the containers and dump them into a bowl. Mix with an electric mixer until well blended.
One recipe fills eight 8oz jars or put it back into some of your empty containers. It's almost impossible to put back in the baby lotion bottles. Last year I bought some pretty candy dishes that seal to put it in for gifts. Anything that seals works (except for tin).
This recipe is easy to double.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Deer Season 2006: Neal 0, Deer 2

Yep, it happened again. Thank goodness is wasn't in my SUV this time. Neal was driving to the shop today and out of no-where a deer ran into the side of his company work truck No one was hurt but the passenger side door and back door are dented. They both still work so that's a blessing. Neal said he didn't even see the deer until it was bouncing off the truck. He stopped and looked for the deer and couldn't find it. Since he was so close to the shop he went there and got one of the other guys. They saw it a few times but it kept running off.
It's not been a good year for us and deer.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

How many kinds of flour does one person need?

Today I was looking for some dried cranberries in my pantry and started looking at all the flour I had in there. I have cake flour, self-rising flour, whole wheat flour, un-bleached all-purpose flour, Gold Medal Harvest King (best for bread) flour and all-purpose flour. Why do I have all these kinds of flour?? I have been trying different recipes and have bought different kinds for different things. I used to just use all-purpose flour but now have a flour for every!

I am sooooooo tired....

The last few days have been a blur. Friday my sister Melissa and I went shopping for the day. We dropped the kids off at school and headed to the "big city" (roll eyes). It's a good thing we took my SUV because we ended up filling it up. It was a long day but we both got our shopping finished.

When I got home, Kinsey was running a fever and very sleepy. I gave her some ibuprofen and sent her to bed. Saturday she woke up feeling bad again. I ended up taking her to the ER because there are no doctors or clinics open on the weekends here. She tested positive for strep and was put on antibiotics. Neal and I were supposed to go to his work party last night but I ended up staying home with Kinsey and getting a start on my candy making. I made 2 pans of fudge (one with pecans and one without), a pan of peppermint bark, and hot chocolate mix.
This morning I got up and started baking. I made 8 mini loaves of banana bread, 4 loaves banana nut bread, and 4 loaves cranberry nut bread. Then I moved on to candy making. I made pralines and divinity. Neal helped me drop the divinity pieces on parchment because it was hardening so fast. Later when I thought it was hard I put them in a container....they all "melted" back into a big! Oh well, I'll figure out how to serve it some how. I've got all the bread packaged and ready to hand out. I need to put the candy in containers but will do that tomorrow.

Tonight while I was watching the Survivor finale, I wrapped all the presents I bought Friday. I have the ones going to Pecos in a box ready to go. I feel like I got a lot accomplished the last few days. I'm ready for the holidays!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Paula Deen candy recipes

Two of my favorite cookbooks are The Lady & Sons Savannah Country Cookbook and The Lady and Sons Just Desserts. I have made quite a few things from both. Two of my favorites are her Gooey Butter Cakes (pumpkin being my favorite flavor) and Shrimp Gumbo Casserole. I've also made a few of her candy recipes. Last year I made Mama's Divinity and this year I'm going to try Pralines.


4 cups sugar
1 cup white corn syrup
3/4 cup cold water
3 egg whites
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
2 cups chopped pecans

In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, stir together the sugar, corn syrup, and water. Stir only until sugar has dissolved. Do not stir after this point. Cook syrup mixture until it reaches 250 degrees F on a candy thermometer, bringing it to a hard ball stage.
While the syrup is cooking, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Once the sugar mixture reaches 250 degrees F, carefully pour a slow steady stream of syrup into the stiffly beaten egg whites, beating constantly at high speed. Add the vanilla and continue to beat until mixture holds its shape, approximately 5 minutes. Stir in pecans.
Using 2 spoons, drop the divinity onto waxed paper, using 1 spoon to push the candy off the other. This may take a little practice because the technique is to twirl the pushing spoon, making the candy look like the top of a soft serve ice cream. If the candy becomes too stiff, add a few drops of hot water. You will need to work fast when making this type of candy. After you spoon the cooked sugar and nuts onto the waxed paper, you're done. Cool the candies on racks completely. You can store them in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.


1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons dark corn syrup
1 cup evaporated milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups pecan halves

Butter the sides of a heavy 2-quart saucepan. Place the sugar, salt, and corn syrup, milk, and butter in saucepan. Over medium heat, stir mixture constantly with a wooden spoon until sugars have dissolved and mixture comes to a boil. Continue to cook to a soft ball stage, approximately 236 degrees F on a candy thermometer. If you do a cold water test, the ball of candy will flatten when you take it out of the water. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
Add the vanilla and nuts, and beat with a spoon by hand for approximately 2 minutes or until candy is slightly thick and begins to lose its gloss. Quickly drop heaping tablespoons onto waxed paper. If the candy becomes stiff, add a few drops of hot water.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Peppermint Bark and Almond Bark Pretzels

This is probably one of the easiest candies to make but makes such a pretty presentation. Just break it up and put in cellophane bags for a great gift.


1 24 oz vanilla almond bark
peppermint extract
6 or more candy canes

Lightly grease a jelly roll pan or large cookie sheet with sides. Break candy canes into pieces of all sizes (good to get out your frustration). Melt vanilla almond bark according to package directions. Stir in 1 tbsp. peppermint extract and candy canes. Pour into pan and cool until solid. Break up into pieces and store in an airtight container.
Variation: Melt an entire package of chocolate almond bark and pour in pan. Cool. Follow above directions and pour over chocolate. Makes a nice double layer.

I also like to dip mini pretzels and mini Ritz peanut butter bites in the almond bark for a salty sweet treat. With the pretzels I occasionally will dip half in the chocolate and then dip the other half in the vanilla. It takes awhile but looks really cool. If I don't do that, I just dip the whole thing in one flavor and drizzle a little over the top with the other flavor. I can usually do a huge bag of them with 1 chocolate and 1 vanilla almond bark. For a festive touch you can sprinkle colored sugars or candies before the almond bark dries.

Cool picture

Miss Zoot had a great picture on her blog so I decided to see if I could take one like it. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Fantasy Fudge

I love to make fudge for Christmas but finding the right recipe was hard. Kraft had a great recipe for years but changed it a few years ago. With the help of the internet you can still find the recipe floating around out there. Of course if I couldn't find it online, I could always call my Mom and she would open a cabinet door and read me the recipe from a copy she's had taped up there for! There are lots of variations you can do to this recipe with all the new chips available....peanut butter, mint, white chocolate, milk chocolate, and so many more.


3 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup unsalted real butter
2/3 cup evaporated milk
12 oz. bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
7 oz. jar marshmallow cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts OR pecans - optional

Combine sugar, butter and milk in heavy 2 1/2 quart saucepan. Bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Continue boiling 5 minutes over medium heat or until candy thermometer reaches 234 degrees, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Remove from heat. Stir in chocolate pieces until melted. Add marshmallow creme, nuts and vanilla. Beat until well blended, pour into a greased 9 x 13 inch pan. Cool at room temperature, cut into squares.

Store in an airtight container. I like to buy tins and layer it with foil or wax paper. It makes a great gift.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Honey Sugar Cookies

These cookies are a recipe I remember making with my Nana (grandmother). She got the recipe from her mother (my great-grandmother). I have a copy of the recipe in my great-grandmothers handwriting that I will keep forever. I decided to add this recipe today since so many bloggers at Club Mom are posting cookie recipes for Jenn's Virtual Cookie Exchange. Make sure and check out Sarah's Mint Cookies while you are at it!


1 c honey
1 c sugar
1 heaping cup shortening
2 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c buttermilk
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
5 c flour

Mix all ingredients until dough forms a ball. Roll dough out and cut into circles. Sprinkle the top of each cookie with a little sugar and bake at 350 degrees until done. Can also add 1/2 tsp vanilla and 1 cup of nuts if desired. This recipe is an old one and doesn't have the time to cook the cookies. You just have to keep and eye on them and judge for yourself when they are done. I would say anywhere from 8-13 minutes.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Hot Chocolate and Spiced Tea mixes

These are family favorite recipes that I have had since I was a child. My Mom made hot chocolate mix for me and spiced tea mix for my sister. We still to this day have our favorite and rarely stray from them. The hot chocolate mix is a very creamy chocolaty mix that is so much better than those little pouches that you buy in the store. The spiced tea is very fragrant and tasty. Both are great for gifts. You can put the mix in cellophane bags, tie with a ribbon and put in a nice coffee mug. Be sure to include the recipe or instructions for how to serve.

I watched Tyler Florence make marshmallows today on The Food Network but I'm not that brave! I seriously thought about it but not this year.

1 (8qt) box powdered milk
1 (1lb) box Nestle Quik chocolate mix
1 (1lb) box powered sugar
1 (1lb) coffee creamer

Mix the 4 ingredients together. Store in closed container. To serve, put 1/3 cup of mix into a cup; fill with boiling water. Stir and add marshamllows.
I usually find the closest amount to what the recipe says and use that. It's yummy!

2 (26oz) jars instant organge flavored breakfast drink (Tang)
1 (3 oz) jar instant tea
1 (6 oz) sweetened lemon flavored drink mix
1 c. sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 tsp. ground cloves
2 tsp. ground allspice

Combine all ingredients, stirring well. Store in airtight container. To serve, place 2 tablespoons of mix into a cup; add boiling water and stir well. If not stored in airtight containe, it will get hard.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Holiday baking and candy making

Well it's that time of year again! I am getting ready to start baking and making candy for the holidays. I love to give homemade gifts when I can. The last 5 years or so I have made candy for family and friends. This year I'm making divinity, fudge with and without pecans, pralines, and peppermint bark. For school I'm making banana bread and hot chocolate mix. I've been saving my old bananas in the freezer for awhile so I'll be able to make quite a few loaves. A friend on my parenting board gave me a really great recipe that uses lots of chunky banana which makes a very moist bread. I have recipes for all of these things and will get them posted this week in case anyone wants them!


2 cups all-purpose flour*
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 1/3 cups mashed overripe bananas**

Preheat oven to 350 degree. Lightly grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan***. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir until just moisten. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 65 minutes, until a toothpick into center of the loaf come out clean. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out on to a wire rack.

*I use 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1 cup whole wheat flour. Also for higher altitude I add about 1/4 cup extra flour.
**I use a potato masher and leave it in chunks.
***I am making mini loaves but am not sure of the cooking time or how many it will make. I'll update when I make them.

Remember if you want to print a recipe, make sure to copy and paste it to a blank page (Word Pad or Notebook) or you will print out my whole blog :-)

Update on Neal

First, thank you all for your thoughts and prayers! You don't know how much your support has meant to me
Well, we found out that that the doctor's still not exactly sure what's wrong with Neal. He suspects it is still something with his diverticulitis. The reason he wanted to see him so soon was to put Neal back on antibiotics and to talk about the next steps. Right now Neal is going to be back on antibiotics then he will go back and the doc will check him again. He then talked about doing a colonoscopy to check out Neal's colon. The doc said surgery would be a last option that he hoped Neal wouldn't have to do. So for now we really don't know any more than we knew before but I'm not as worried as I was.
Again, thank you so much for your support!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I know, it's been 5 days since I posted...

We went to Neal's CT scan and blood work appointments Friday and were told that the doctor would receive the results Monday. On Monday the doctor's office called and wanted him to make an appointment. They would not give us any information over the phone. We don't know what it's about and Neal and I are both stressing. My healthy eating has gone out the window. I made fudge brownies tonight!! Ok, it could be PMS too but combine PMS and stress and I need CHOCOLATE!!!
I really need to get back to my healthy eating and making menus. I come home at night with no idea what we will have for dinner. After making menus for a few months it's kind of a weird feeling. Tonight I threw together turkey meatballs with mushroom gravy, rice, and broccoli. It was quite good if I say so myself.
Forgot to add that Neal's appointment is Thursday afternoon. I will try to update when we find out something!