Wednesday, November 30, 2011

mexican wedding cake party!


Mexican Wedding Cakes are a Christmas tradition from my childhood. If you love butter & nuts, I made these just for you! They start with a crisp yet tender & delicate, shortbread-type butter cookie. Then you toss them in a blizzard of powdered sugar for a festive look & the perfect sweetness. I’ve ALWAYS loved these! I’ve seen them made with pecans, walnuts or almonds so use whatever nut is your favorite!

Baking these cookies today while listening to Christmas music kick started my Christmas Spirit! Being in the kitchen is where my joy begins & these cookies are a little bit magical just like Christmas should be. What puts you in the Christmas spirit?

Mexican Wedding Cakes

Yield: makes about 3 1/2 dozen


1 cup butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar, divided
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup chopped pecans, I toasted mine at 350 for 5-7 minutes


1. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer. Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar and the vanilla & mix. Add flour & mix. Add pecans & mix. Set aside additional 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar.

2. Divide dough in half & form each half into a ball. Wrap separately in plastic wrap & put in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to chill. This will insure that your cookies don't spread & flatten when baked.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Shape into 1 inch balls. Dough will be firm & slightly crumbly. Place on ungreased baking sheet 1/2 inch apart. (even when recipes say ungreased I still give it a tiny spritz with Pam cooking spray.) Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or just until cookies begin to brown on the bottom. They will still be somewhat pale on top. Cool cookies for 5 minutes on the baking sheet. Gently roll the warm (not hot) cookies in the remaining powdered sugar and place coated cookies on a rack to cool completely.

4. Repeat step 3 with remaining half of dough. After cookies are completely cooled, roll them in the powdered sugar again.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

mom's holiday dinner rolls party!


Wednesday Thanksgiving Report: I’m getting excited; tomorrow is the day! I love to plan menus but there isn’t much menu planning for Thanksgiving, There is plenty of shopping & cooking & baking but the menu was set many years ago & we enjoy the long established traditional feast!

What’s on your menu? This is what we will be dining on:

Turkey and Gravy
Cranberry Sauce
Mashed potatoes
Sweet potatoes (no marshmallows)
Mom’s Holiday Rolls
Pillsbury Crescents (don’t judge)
Homemade Cornbread Stuffing
Green Bean Casserole (for me!)
Deviled Eggs (for Mark)
Pumpkin Pie with real whipped cream
Individual Chocolate Brownie Mousse Trifles (for Monica)

I could easily live without the turkey, crazy, huh? I’m most looking forward to the sweet potatoes, stuffing, mashed potatoes & gravy & homemade rolls. Speaking of rolls, the Pillsbury Crescents are for Monica. I know! What kind of child have I raised? She’s perfect in every other way, I swear! I live for homemade bread!

This recipe is another favorite family tradition. My mom has made these for every holiday as long as I can remember & they are so good. They are light & fluffy & buttery. They make any meal complete but they must be served on Easter, Thanksgiving & Christmas.

Mom’s Holiday Rolls


1 package regular dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup milk, scalded
1/4 cup butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
3 1/2 cups flour (approximately)


1. Dissolve yeast in warm water in large bowl. Set aside.

2. Scald milk in microwave. I put it in a 4 cup glass measuring cup & cook on high for a couple of minutes. You want it to boil but not boil over. While milk is hot, add butter, stir it a bit until the butter melts in the hot milk. (I accidentally used a whole stick of butter today & it turned out just fine.)

3. After milk & butter cools for a few minutes, stir the egg, salt & milk mixture into the yeast.

4. Using a fork, stir in sugar & 2 cups flour to form a batter.

5. Add enough additional flour to make dough easy to handle.

6. Knead dough on floured surface for five minutes. Add additional flour, if needed. Place dough in greased bowl covered with a damp cloth, in a warm place, to rise until doubled, at least 1 hour.

7. Punch dough down and shape into rolls. Place in greased 9x13 pan & cover & allow to rise again.

8. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Brush with melted butter & serve.

--> CONGRATS to my cute cousin, Kendall, who won a BLUE RIBBON at the fair with this recipe! I'm going to try the cloverleaf next time. He's a PRO & I’m so proud of him!! 

roasted chicken party!

What makes you feel like a Domestic Diva? For me, it's roasting 8 pounds of chicken breasts, then shredding & freezing the extra meat to create delicious dinners for my family. I do this every week or two & it gives me a head start on a few "busy night dinners".

After roasting, I freeze the chicken in 3 cup ziplocs, which is a great size for our family. I can easily put together a chicken pot pie, chicken chili, chicken garlic pizza, wild rice & chicken soup, chicken fettuccine alfredo or Mark just pulls some out of the freezer for a quick protein hit if he needs it. (He warms it up first!) The possibilities are endless & with the roasted chicken, half the work is already done.

You can season this up however you'd like. Today, I used kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, dried thyme leaves, fresh chopped rosemary, garlic powder & a few shakes of cayenne pepper.

I completely understand the "I-only-buy-boneless-skinless-chicken-breasts" philosophy. I like it that way too & I buy it boneless, skinless for things like stir-fry, fajitas, chicken parm, etc. But bone-in, skin-on is soooo much tastier for roasting. The chicken turns out more flavorful, tender and moist than the boneless variety. And, oh, the smell in your house will be divine! I roast mine low & slow but you can crank up the heat for a shorter cooking time. The skin will keep it tender if you don't overcook it.

This post is more of a cooking method than a step by step recipe to follow. You can use whatever herbs & spices you like. I keep them versatile so that the roasted chicken is nicely seasoned but can be used in almost any cuisine.

Roasted Chicken

I used 8 large bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
a few sprigs of fresh rosemary, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
several shakes of cayenne pepper

1. Mix desired seasoning. Place chicken breasts on baking sheet, pat dry with a paper towel. Rub seasoning on front & back of chicken but mostly UNDER the skin.

2. Bake at 275 degrees for 2 hours or until meat thermometer measures 165 degrees.

3. Discard skin & pull chicken from bone Shred and freeze the extra chicken as desired.

 And I almost forgot to mention the cup of liquid gold that is in the bottom of the pan after you roast your chicken. Chill it so you can easily skim off the fat & freeze it in a separate ziploc with your chicken. Add the whole cupful of stock to the next thing you make that calls for chicken broth (like the chicken pot pie linked above) & you'll be boosting the flavor by about a kajillion times! You don't get that with boneless, skinless!

I'm thinking Creamy Chicken Enchiladas, Chicken Pot Pie and Chicken Chili!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

chicken pot pie party!

Remember the frozen pot pies from the 70’s? They were a big treat at our house. I loved the individual servings in the mini pie tins & I loved that I could bake them myself. After they baked, I always tried to turn mine upside down on a plate without any of the gravy spilling out. Then I would carefully eat the very outside edge of the crust, that was usually a little burnt, still trying to keep the pie intact. Then I would stick my fork right in the middle. I can just see all of the steam coming out as I break it open to find the gravy as hot as lava & turkey, carrots, peas & potatoes. My favorite part was the gravy & the potatoes. There was something special about those little pies.

This recipe is reminiscent of those 50 cent pies but so much better. It has all of the same basic ingredients that qualify it for comfort food and it’s definitely on my list of favorites. What’s your favorite comfort food?

We'll be having this again soon with leftover turkey from Thanksgiving!

Chicken Pot Pie


1/2 cup butter
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups turkey or chicken broth
1 cup milk
3 cups cooked seasoned turkey or chicken, cut into bite sized pieces
1 1/2 cups carrots, cut into bite sized pieces
2 medium potatoes, peeled & cut into bite sized pieces
1 cup frozen peas
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes, if desired
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, if desired
Double recipe of pastry crust FOUND HERE or use 2 unbaked refrigerated pie crusts.


1. In a small saucepan, cook the cut up carrots in about a cup of boiling water. After simmering for a few minutes add the cut up potatoes & simmer for 5-7 minutes. I cook them together but the carrots take a couple of minutes longer to cook than the potatoes. You just want the carrots & potatoes to be PARTIALLY pre-cooked, since they will finish cooking while baked in the pot pie. Drain carrots & potatoes & throw in the frozen peas. The heat from the cooked carrots & potatoes will be enough to thaw the peas. Set aside.

2. In large saucepan, heat butter over low heat until melted. Add onion & celery & saute for 2 minutes. Add flour, salt & pepper. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is bubbly. Stir in broth and milk. Heat to just a simmer. Boil and stir 1 minute. Stir in chicken, vegetables, parsley & thyme.

3. Prepare pastry. Roll 2/3 of the pastry to fit the shape & size of the pan you are using. You can use 9x9 square or a 10" round pie pan. Today I used an 8x11 rectangle & had the perfect amount of crust.

4. Pour chicken mixture into pastry lined pan.

5. Roll remaining pastry into the size & shape of your pan and place over filling. Turn edges under & flute as desired. Cut slits into the top of the crust to vent.

6. Bake in 425 degree oven until golden brown, about 35 minutes.

P.S. Feel free to use a box of frozen peas & carrots or frozen mixed vegetables.

Friday, November 11, 2011

pumpkin spice kiss cookie party!

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Can you believe my husband hasn't touched the FRENCH SILK PIE I made? Have I mentioned that he is "health conscience"? I KNOW! When I first found out, it really made me question our relationship, ha! But, being a loving and supportive wife, I made him these cookies today. They are PUMPKIN spice kiss cookies; pumpkins are vegetables; vegetables are healthy. He will eat a half dozen of these & think I'm amazingly thoughtful! Everyone will be happy!

I'm whispering so he doesn't hear...These cookies are not particularly healthy. They don't even have any pumpkin in them. But they are creamy, little bites of heavenly cinnamon sweetness. Shhhh...They might even have as many grams of fat & sugar as a french silk pie. We don't know; we won't talk about it.

I got the recipe from my friend and neighbor, Mindy. Not only did she give me the recipe. she also tracked down the pumpkin spice kisses & delivered them to my door. Thanks, Mindy! Keep these kisses on your radar. I believe they are available in the Fall at Target & WalMart.

OR...EBAY...for $10 a bag! Dang!

Don't cut the kisses in half for the recipe. I just wanted to show you the goodness inside.

Pumpkin Spice Kiss Cookies
click HERE to print recipe only
makes 4 dozen cookies


1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 package Pumpkin Spice Hershey Kisses


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Unwrap Hershey Kisses and set aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add vanilla and eggs and beat until light and fluffy.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Gradually add to butter mixture. Mix until just combined.
 4. Place rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart on a parchment lined or sprayed cookie sheet.
 5. Bake 7 to 9 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately press a Hershey Kiss into the center of the cookie. Move to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

P.S. A reader commented below & suggested that you FREEZE the unwrapped kisses for a bit before you put them on the cookies. That way they won't melt. What a great idea! I'm going to give it a try next time. I love it when my readers share their ideas with me! Thanks!

P.S. A few people have commented that the dough is too dry. I'm not sure why that is for some,but readers below suggested to make sure your butter is softened & that your eggs are large & that your flour is not packed when measured. If yours seems too dry to shape as shown, add 1-2 tablespoons of milk. I had another reader who made them & added 3 tablespoons of molasses. She said they were YUMMY!

This is what happened to the first pan of cookies when I immediately pressed the Kisses in after baking. I swirled the melted kisses with a toothpick so the cream centers would show a bit. I let the cookies cool for a few minutes before adding the kisses on the rest & they didn't melt. I can't decide which way I liked them best, melted or kiss shaped. Happy baking!

9/24/12 update: I didn't have any kisses but wanted a sweet cinnamon treat tonight. I made these exactly as written, minus the kisses. Mixed up 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 3 tablespoons sugar in a separate bowl. Rolled the cookie dough into the cinnamon sugar mixture before baking, like a snickerdoodle. YUM! Here are a couple of a pics of tonight's version, soft, chewy, cinnamon sweetness!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

pie crust party!

I give you…PIE CRUST! To some, pie crust is overrated, just a means to deliver whatever you put inside them. To me, a pie crust is a flaky, tender pastry that compliments your delicious sweet or savory ingredients. I love pie and I love pie crust! Today I baked this pie crust for my French Silk Pie

I’ve used many pie crust recipes over the years, some with butter, sugar, even vinegar. And I have nothing against the Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts either. But I always come back to this one from Betty Crocker. It’s basic, old-fashioned and delicious, not to mention beautiful! Yes, I got carried away with the photos.

Standard Pastry Pie Crust for one-crust, 9 or 10 inch pie


1/2 cup shortening
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 to 4 tablespoons ice cold water


1. Cut shortening into flour and salt until particles are size of small peas.

2. Sprinkle in water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost cleans side of bowl. (1 to 2 teaspoons additional water may be added if necessary).

3. Gather pastry into a ball; shape into flattened round on lightly floured surface. I like to use parchment paper.

4. Roll pastry 2 inches larger than inverted pie plate with floured rolling pin.

5. Fold pastry into fourths. This makes it easier to transfer into you pie plate. Folding the dough is super easy if you rolled it out on parchment paper since you can just lift the paper & fold it over.

6. Unfold and ease into pie plate, pressing firmly against the side.

7. Trim overhanging edge of pastry.

8. Crimp edge as desired.

9. For BAKED Pie Crust: Heat oven to 475 degrees. Prick bottom and sides thoroughly with fork.

10. For BAKED pie crust, bake until light brown, 8 to 10 minutes; cool. Otherwise, fill with desired pie filling & bake according to directions.

P.S. If you have any extra crust, roll it out, put it on a separate pie pan, dot with butter & sprinkle with cinnamon & sugar & bake until lightly browned for a special sweet treat.

P.S. If you are making a 2 crust pie, double the recipe, divide dough in half, shape into 2 rounds & roll out top & bottom crust separately.

Monday, November 7, 2011

french silk pie party!

This pie is dangerously delicious! If you are afraid of calories, run & hide! I admit when it comes to rich, chocolatey dessert calories, I have NO FEAR! French silk is my daughter's favorite celebrate pie. I made it today to celebrate her AWESOME report card for the 1st quarter of 11th grade!

If you haven't tried french silk pie, it's not like a regular chocolate cream pie. It's more like chocolate mousse in a pastry crust. I got the recipe from my 1986 Betty Crocker cookbook. So it's definitely a classic! It's no bake, except for the crust & it's as easy as...PIE! Notice the recipe only has TWO steps! Feel free to use a store bought refrigerated pie crust & Cool Whip, if you like.

Classic French Silk Pie

9 inch Baked Pie Crust-see recipe HERE
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened (not margarine)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3 squares (1 ounce each) unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled (I chop it up & melt it in the microwave with low heat)
3 eggs

1. Beat granulated sugar and butter in 1 1/2 quart bowl until light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla, cream of tartar and chocolate.

2. Beat in eggs until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Pour into baked pie shell. Refrigerate until set, 3 to 4 hours. Or cover with plastic wrap and freeze at least 8 hours. We like it frozen!

P.S. If pie is frozen, remove from freezer 15 minutes before serving.

Top pie with whipped cream & chocolate curls, if desired, . Refrigerate any remain pie.

Whipped Cream


1 cup chilled whipping cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla


1. Beat whipping cream in a chilled 1 1/2 quart glass or metal bowl until it begins to thicken. Add powdered sugar & vanilla & beat until soft peaks form. Store in refrigerator.

P.S. Whipped cream does not hold up well like Cool Whip does, unless it has been stabilized. Do not put this whipped cream on the pie until you are ready to serve it. The whipped cream can be stored separately in a sealed bowl in the refrigerator for a day & then it will begin to begin to fall.

Chocolate Curls

1. Melt 1/2 cup chocolate chips with 1 teaspoon shortening. Pout onto the bottom of a NON-COATED metal cookie sheet.

2. Let the chocolate set up or pop the pan it in the fridge for a few minutes to harden. Use a blunt metal spatula, holding it at a 45 degree angle from the chocolate, scrap the chocolate off the pan into curls. If curls break, chocolate is too cold, let it sit at room temp for a few minutes. If chocolate doesn't curl, it's too warm, back in the fridge. Use a toothpick to pick up & move the curls.

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