Thursday, February 13, 2014

Double cut cookies - how to get perfectly uniform sugar cookies

Sometimes I'm a day late and a dollar short. 
This particular day turned into two days, but everyone is still sleeping, so I'm safe for a few more hours.  

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I was up late, making cookies for neighbors and friends for Valentine's Day tonight, and I crossed into the next day.
Why am I blogging this at 1:00 am?
Because I had a sugar cookie epiphany.  I finally had a few free moments of quiet to myself and was amazed what my mind came up with - several epiphanies, but only one regarding cookies.
So here it is:
I took my favorite standby sugar cookie recipe, HERE  and just made normal cookies.
(I did substitute the vegetable shortening with coconut oil.  All of it, and liked how they turned out, but that's another story).

As the cookies baked and I saw the cute hearts begin to lose their cute shapes and tight lines, the epiphany struck.

After cooling the cookies, but before they were too cool, I took my trusty cookie cutter (the one I had just cut them with), and I cut them again.  I don't know why I didn't think of it before, but suddenly, I have a ton of UNIFORM cookies!  Which look great.  And will be easier to frost.

I like the crisp lines, and am thrilled with the results.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Quinoa Granola Bars

I stumbled across this recipe this morning, and LOVE how these granola bars turn out (after a few tweaks)
The perk is that these tasty granola bars are made with all natural products - quinoa, oats, peanut butter, honey, coconut, coconut oil, and nuts and fruits of one's choosing.  Nothing that I can't pronounce, and no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
I don't feel guilty giving them to my kids to snack on, and know they'll get lots of energy from these yummy bars. 

1 C. uncooked quinoa
1 C. uncooked oats
1/2 C. coconut
1 C. combination of your favorite dried fruits & nuts
(think dates, raisins, blueberries, cranberries, walnuts, peanuts, pecans, peanuts etc)
1/4 t. salt
2 T. chia seeds
3/4 C. honey
1/2 C. peanut butter
3 T. brown sugar
1.5 T. coconut oil

Preheat oven to 350, and spread uncooked quinoa and oats on a cookie sheet.  Toast for 8-10 minutes. 
Place in a large bowl, and add coconut, 1 cup of any combination of chopped dates/craisins/raisins/walnuts/almonds/pecans etc. of your preference (I used walnuts, craisins, and raisins), and chia.

In a small saucepan, combine salt, honey, peanut butter, coconut oil, and brown sugar. 
Bring to a boil. Immediately remove from heat as it begins to boil.

Pour over oats mixture and mix until dry ingredients are completely coated.  
Press into greased 9x13 pan, and bake for 20 minutes.
Let cool for up to 2 hours, then cut for serving. 

If desired, mix 1 cup melted semi sweet chocolate chips with 1 Tablespoon coconut oil.
Dip cut granola bars into chocolate mixture, then place on parchment paper until hardened. 
Wrap individually, and store in cool, dry place. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Yes, I did say Sauerkraut. 
Who knew you could make this stuff? 
We've been on a bit of a pro-biotic kick lately, and honestly I was scared to make this, but it was one of the easiest recipes ever.  Really.  Three ingredients and 15 minutes (and 3-10 days).

1 head cabbage (about 3 pounds).  Wash & trim it.  Then cut into wedges, and then cut into very thin ribbon like slices.
Place in a large bowl. 
Cabbage at beginning of kneading process
note the liquid in bottom of bowl
Sprinkle 1.5 Tablespoons of coarse sea salt over cabbage.

Begin to knead the cabbage, squeezing any juice from it.  This will take approximately 5-10 minutes. Add 1/2 t. caraway seeds for flavor if desired (I loved the caraway).

The cabbage will change and begin to appear wilted. It will also become rather juicy.  At this point, pack it into a clean quart jar (or two).  Pour any juice into jar and tamp down to remove any air pockets.
Cover with a thin piece of material and a rubber band, and place in a dish, in a cool, dark area and wait for the fermentation to begin.
Check it in 3 days, and depending on strength and preference, between 3-10 days remove it, place a jar lid on it, and refrigerate it.  
I forgot to add my caraway earlier - don't do that!
Ready to begin fermenting...
We ate it on hot dogs tonight. I'm not a fan of those things, but tonight - I was pretty darn impressed with my hot dog...the sauerkraut was pretty amazing!

Kale Chips

I really love kale - I used to buy it and use it in crudites baskets, just for it's fluffy and frilly texture.  What was I thinking?  
I guess I've officially joined the kale craze.  While I can't substantiate it, the recipe show I was watching while at the dentist's waiting room the other day stated that it has the most calcium of any of the vegetables.  
Really, I don't care. 
I just love it. 
So, my kids decided to they wanted to make kale chips. 
Then they ate them all. 
After they oohhed and aaahhhhed about the water reduction that takes place during this process. 

Grab a bunch of kale - frilly leaved is my favorite
Wash and pat it dry
Tear into bite sized pieces discarding  stalks (or save for soup stalk)
Toss in a bowl with just enough olive oil to coat (1 T)
Sprinkle with coarse sea salt (1 t.)
Add garlic powder (1/4 t.) (or minced fresh garlic) (optional if you are a vampire) 
Spread out on cookie sheet (line with parchment paper or use silpat)
Place in preheated oven and bake at 350 for about 10-15 minutes
Check it every now and then because it won't look too different when it is done. 

It will look like this when it is done...really, it doesn't reduce THAT much - but my kids couldn't keep their hands off of it before I could get the picture taken. 

Monkey Bread

Grands!® Monkey Bread
Ooohhh la la - this stuff is crazy good. 
Many years ago, my friend made this for me.  Wanting to make them for myself, I found the recipe in an old church cookbook, but it was missing several ingredients, so when I made it, it wasn't very good. 
Fast forward 12 years, on a quest to find a decent recipe for these, I came across one on the Pillsbury website, which we have tweaked a bit... 
We love pecans with these, and didn't like the crunchy sugar on top, and found that combining the sugar and butter prior to adding it to the biscuits, eliminates the crusty sugar chunks.  In my family's review of them - they were a hit! 


cup granulated sugar
teaspoon cinnamon
cans (16.3 oz each) refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
cup chopped toasted walnuts or pecans, if desired

cup firmly packed brown sugar
cup butter or margarine, melted


  • Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 12-cup fluted tube pan with shortening or cooking spray. In large -storage plastic food bag, mix granulated sugar and cinnamon.

  • In a small pan, mix brown sugar and butter. Bring to a boil, until combined. Set aside to cool.

  • Separate dough into 16 biscuits, then cut each into quarters.  Shake in bag with cinnamon and sugar to coat. Arrange in pan - add toasted walnuts or pecans among biscuit pieces if desired. 

  • Pour cooled brown sugar and butter mixture over biscuit pieces. 

  • Bake for 28-23 minutes, or until golden brown and no longer doughy in center.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn upside down on serving platter.  Pull apart to serve; serve warm.