Tuesday, December 18, 2012

7 Days of Holiday Treats - Cut Out Sugar Cookies

When we were growing up, one of my mom's friends bought her a cookbook and on the inside cover dedicated it to the mistreated kids in our family who never got cut out sugar cookies.  After that, decorated sugar  cookies became a Santa treat tradition in our house.  Sometimes we made them from scratch, sometimes from a mix, but they were always left out for Santa on Christmas Eve.

My sister and I have continued the tradition with our kids at my mom's house.  On years we are all home for Thanksgiving we make them then, and when we are home for Christmas we make them Christmas Eve morning.  To speed up the process we now use a recipe that doesn't require refrigeration and a frosting recipe that hardens just a bit so the cookies store better. 

Hope you will consider leaving a few of these yummy cookies for Santa this year.  We know from exerience he really like them.

Cut Out Sugar Cookies from The Adventures of Sweet Sugarbelle
** I always use almond extract and I use at least 3 t if not a bit more -- we REALLY like almond around here.

Sugar Cookie Icing
I double this recipe, dividing it into 1 c portions and tinting each a different color for very festive cookies.

Monday, December 17, 2012

7 Days of Holiday Treats - Peppermint Popcorm

I made this Pinterest find on a whim last year to take to a last minute holiday party.  WOW!  Not a single piece was left and they were asking for more.  One of the best parts about this recipe is how easy it is.  One word of caution -- You MUST use peppermint oil, NOT peppermint extract.  The extract will sieze up the candy coating -- ask me how I know...

Peppermint Popcorn

2 bags microwave popcorn, popped -- I like to use salted for a sweet/salty taste
3 regular size candy canes, crushed
1 lb almond bark
5 - 8 drops of peppermint oil (no extract)

Toss popped corn and crushed candy canes in the largest bowl you can find.  Melt almond bark according to package directions.  Add peppermint oil and stir well -- at this point I do a taste test and add more oil if necessary.  Pour almond bark over popcorn and toss until well-coated.  Spread on parchment paper to harden - 45 min - hour.  Break into pieces and enjoy. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Meal Plan Monday - December 17th

This is a crazier than normal week.  It is the last week of school before the holidays, everyone has midterm exams, we are scheduling extra tutoring sessions, and we have 3 doctors appointments (WHAT was I thinking).  Add all that to our regular Girl Scout meetings, agility training and gymnastics PLUS 3 holiday parties (I'm hosting one) and my parents coming to town and you have really CRAZY!  I don't have any real hopes of sticking to this meal plan, but we are going to give it a whirl!  I've stuck to my TNT quick meals, so maybe....

Sunday - Hosting Holiday Wine Tasting -- DH and kids going to see the Hobbit
Monday - Meatball Subs
Tuesday - Chef Salads
Wednesday - Crockpot Baked Potatoes
Thursday -  Leftovers or pick up on the way home from
Friday - Neighborhood Christmas Party
Saturday - DH's High School Buddies Christmas Party

Linking up to Meal Plan Monday at I'm An Organized Junkie

7 Days of Holiday Treats - Jam Thumbprints

This is such a traditional holiday cookie, but it is so delicious.  I like to use a variety of homemade jams and jellies.  I have used apricot, cherry, and strawberry.  These also add color to your holiday cookie trays.

Jam Thumbprint Cookies

1 c butter, softened
2/3 c sugar
1/2 t almond extract
2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c jam or jelly of your choice

Glaze -
1/2 c confectioners's sugar
3/4 t almond extract
1 t milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth.  Mix in 1/2 t almond extract.  Mix in flour until dough comes together.  Roll dough into 1 1/2 inch balls and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Make an indention in each cookie with your thumb and fill with jam or jelly of your choice. 

Bake for 14 - 18 minutes in preheated oven, or until very lightly browned.  Let cool 1 minute on the cookie sheet. 

In a medium bowl, mix together the confectioners' sugar, 3/4 t almond extract and milk until smooth.  Drizzle lightly over warm cookies. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

7 Days of Holiday Treats - Shortbread Bites

Every year Dillards and Southern Living team up to create a Holiday Book you can only get at Dillards.  My mom has been buying these every year for my sister and I as our Thanksgiving Present.  One of our traditions has become leafing thorough our new bokos and deciding what to make.  One year's find was these buttery, flavorful shortbread cookies.  Now, I LOVE a good shortbread cookie, but the additions of chopped dried cherries and chocolate make these stand out. 

These yummy treats have a hard time making it to my cookie trays.  They are so delicious I want to eat them all myself.   If I'm being honest, I had to make two batches....

Chocolate Cherry Sugar Crusted Shortbread Bites
Southern Living Ultimate Christmas Cookbook  2012
1 c butter, softened
1/2 c powdered sugar
2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/8 t salt
1/4 c semi-sweet mini chocolate chips (I just chopped up regular size chocolate chips)
1/4 c finely chopped dried cherries
1 t vanilla extract
1 T granulated sugar
1/2 c granulated sugar
Beat butter until creamy; add powdered sugar, beating well. 
Combine flour and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until well blended.  Stir in chocolate cherries and vanilla.
Line an 8" square pan wtih aluminum foil, allowing foil to extend over edges of pan  Lightly grease foil with cooking spray and sprinkle with 1 T granulated sugar.  Press dough into pan.
Bake at 325 degrees for for 40 minutes or until slightly golden.  Cool 30 minutes or until slightly warm in pan.  Use foil to gently lift shortbread from pan.  Cut shortbread into 1" squares using a long sharp knife.  Roll shortbread squares in 1/2 c of granualted sugar. 
Linking up at

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Cranberry Pistachio Granola

This is just so very delicious.  And it's pretty and festive too.  I'm always looking for new granola recipes and this one made the family favorite recipe book.  I was thinking of giving this as gifts this holiday season, but I don't think I can share! 

Cranberry Pistachio Granola
originally from Yummy Mummy Kitchen

3 c rolled oats
3/4 c shelled pistachios
1/2 t nutmeg
1/4 t salt
1/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c maple syrup
2 T vegetable oil
3/4 c dried cranberries - the pomegranate flavored ones are a wonderful compliment to the nutmeg

Mix oats, pistachios, nutmeg, salt and brown sugar in a large bowl.  In a measuring cup stir together syrup and oil; pour over dry ingredients and stir until very well coated. 

Spread on a large baking sheet.  Bake at 250 degrees for 20 minutes, stir.  Bake 20 more minutes, stir.  If you like a chewier granola remove from oven and let cool about 30 minutes.  I like a crispier granola and I bake 20 more minutes, watching carefully to not let it burn. 

Once granola is cool, stir in dried cranberries.  Store in an airtight container for about a month -- longer in the refrigerator or freezer.

Linking up at
Tatertots and Jello
Pocket Change Gourmet

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Adding a Little Bit to the Freezer

After my huge summer freezer cooking session, it takes awhile for me to have to fill up the freezer again, but it was time to restock some of the basics and I really wanted to try a couple of new things.

Over the past few days I have added the following to our freezer and pantry -

Pancakes - 25 pancakes
Sausage Balls - 5 dozen
Pumpkin Granola -
Pumpkin Apple Muffins - 16 muffins
Banana Oat Muffins - 16 muffins
Breakfast Casserole - 1
Dried Apples - 2 quarts
Waffles - 5 waffles

Tomato Bisque - 3 lunch servings
Santa Fe Chicken - 1 1/2 quarts

That should keep us set for breakfast until late January and give me some different lunch options.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Meal Plan Monday - Dec 10

It's time to meal plan for the week again.  Our schedule is so full of holiday activities it is so nice to have a freezer full of items to pull out for quick meals.

Monday - Chicken Cordon Bleu, Broccoli Casserole, Fruit
Tuesday - Baked Chicken Parmesan, Salad
Wednesday - Tomato Soup (using canned tomatoes) and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Thursday - Going to see A Christmas Carol at the high school where I teach
Friday - Subway - Nanny's Treat
Saturday - Leftovers for the kids - Cookie Exchange for me
Sunday -  I'm hosting a Holiday Wine Tasting - menu to follow with recipes

I'm also doing some holiday baking this week -- be on the lookout soon for posts including
Shortbread Bites
Spritz Cookies
Bourbon Balls
Chocolate Coverd Cherry Cookies
Coconut Cranberry Citrus Cookies
Pistachio Wedding Cookies
Lemon Pomegranate Cookies

I love to give cookie trays to friends, neighbors and co-workers each year.  Here's a look at last year's Christmas Cookie Trays with recipes. 

For more menu ideas, visit I'm An Organized Junkie

Monday, December 3, 2012

Meal Plan Monday - December 3

Last week's menu kind of went off the rails, here's hoping for a better week.  We did finally try the Crockpot Spaghetti and Meatballs.  It was OK, the texture of the spaghetti was off just a bit for us.  I think I'll try it again and make a couple of adjustments. 

Sunday - Italian Pot Roast, Mashed Potatoes, Lima Beans, Brownies
Monday - Grilled Chicken Salads
Tuesday - Cheesy Mexican Rice
Wednesday - Leftovers, wraps or salads
Thursday - Something new and exciting!
Friday - Subway - Nanny's Treat
Saturday -  Neighborhood Supper Club -- YUM!  I'm taking roasted Red, White and Sweet Potatoes with Rosemary

For more menu ideas visit I'm An Organized Junkie.