Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Foodie Penpal Reveal Day

Today is the last day of October and time to post for Foodie Penpal Reveal Day.  This month my package came from Lyndsay Kugler from New Raymer, Colorado.  What package it was.

There were goodies in every nook and cranny of this box.  Every piece of tissue paper had something hidden in it, and the smell was wonderful.

There were these three cute packages of various mixes.  The milkshake mix has a recipe on the side to make cookies with it, which, being the Cookie Monster's Grandmother, is probably what I will do.

There was a personal popcorn ball.  A great treat for this time of year.

There were wonderful candies.  Believe me, the Mrs. Fields candies got eaten as soon as this photo was taken.

This was another goodies for me to snack on.   My own personal size chicken noodle soup mix.  I am going to stash this at work for lunch.

There were some things made in Colorado.   A Spicy Snack Stick.  This is going to work for lunch also. 

 Hot Cider Fixins.  Isn't just the cleverest packaging?  I just had to take two photos.  Do you see the whole nutmeg for the head, the whole allspice for the ears, and the whole clove antlers?  You put the whole thing in a half gallon of apple juice or cider, heat and fish everything out when the cider is done.  This one is probably going to be used on Thanksgiving.

This is the reason that the package smelled so wonderful and so will my home when I use these.

Lyndsay doesn't have a blog listed so I don't know if she has one.  Although I sent her a Thank You email, I want to thank her again here for sending me such a wonderful package.

My Foodie Penpal package went to Katie Tanner at Food Fitness Photography.  You can click on over to see what I sent her.

This wonderful exchange is hosted by Lindsay from the Lean Green Bean.  Sound like fun?

The Lean Green Bean

Just click on the graphic above to go to the Foodie Penpal page for all the details.

Linking to:  October Foodie Penpal Reveal Day

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Cheesy Sausage Corn Chowder

Recently I had part of a roll of breakfast sausage and some Colby/jack cheese that I needed to use up.  It seems as though I have needed to “use up” quite a lot of food lately.

I needed to make soup for lunches so thought that using the sausage and cheese as a base for some chowder sounded good.  I add all the veggies that I like in a chowder and came up with a soup that was comforting and good on a cool fall day.

Cheesy Sausage Corn Chowder
1 lb. breakfast sausage (I use roll sausage and had about 3/4 lb.)
2 ribs celery, finely chopped (about 1/2 c.)
1/2 c. chopped onion
1/3 c. chopped red pepper
1 large potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
2 c. chicken broth
1/2 t. thyme
1 bay leaf
1 qt. milk
1 can (15 oz.) cream style corn
1 c. water
1/3 c. flour
4 oz. Colby/jack cheese, diced

Brown sausage in a large saucepan and pour off any excess fat.  Add veggies and cook about 5 minutes.  Add potato, chicken broth, thyme and bay leaf.  (Add a bit of water if broth does not cover completely.)  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.  Stir in cream corn and milk.  Cook until heated through but do not boil.  Stir in cheese until melted.  Measure water into a glass measuring cup.  Add flour and mix until smooth.  Slowly add to soup, stirring until soup thickens to chowder consistency.  Add a bit of milk if soup becomes too thick.  Heat through.  Remove bay leaf and serve.  Makes about 8 servings.

Linking to these great parties:
Trick or Treat Tuesday
Show Me What You Got Tuesday
Tuesday Talent Show
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday
Totally Tasty Tuesday
Tasteful Tuesday
Take a Look Tuesday
Get Your Craft On
Terrific Tuesday

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hidden Treasure Mini Meat Loaves

It is Monday and time for me to welcome my new followers and to thank all who take the time from their busy lives to read this blog.  I appreciate it very much and hope you find the information I post here useful.

When my kids were growing up there were two things that they liked when it came to food.  One was getting their own individual dish of something and the other was dishes with interesting names.  So this could have been Cheese Stuffed Mini Meat Loaves, but my kids would have preferred Hidden Treasure Mini Meat Loaves.

Meatloaf isn’t the standby in this home that it used to be what with the price of ground beef now, but I do make it fairly often.  This one is still a favorite because each person gets their own little meatloaf with cheese hidden inside and topped with a tomato gravy.  Even though kids no longer live here, these are always welcome at our table.

Various cheese can be used here.  I have used cheddar, Swiss, Colby/jack and mozzarella.  For a little kick, pepper/jack would probably be good.

The tomato soup topping is something that my mother always put on meatloaf, and I have continued this tradition.

Hidden Treasure Mini Meat Loaves
1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef
3/4 c. quick or old fashioned oats+
1 t.  salt
1/4 t.  pepper
1 t. poultry seasoning
1/4 c. chopped onion
3/4 c. milk
1/4 c. ketchup
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 egg
8 (1/2x1 1/2 sticks) cheese of choice
1 can (10 oz.) condensed tomato soup

Place ground beef in a mixing bowl.  Add oats, salt, pepper, poultry seasoning and onion.  Mix together well.  An easy trick to measure the liquid ingredients is to measure the milk into a 2-cup glass measuring cup.  Add ketchup until the liquid reaches the 1 cup mark.  Add Worcestershire sauce.  Break egg into the cup and mix everything together well.  Pour into ground beef mixture and mix gently until everything is well combined.  Putting a stick of cheese into each one, shape mixture into eight equal size mini loaves.  Make sure that cheese is totally encased in the meat.  Place loaves in a greased baking pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Place equal amounts of undiluted tomato soup on top of each loaf.  Bake 15 to 20 minutes more.   Spoon any soup/gravy in the bottom of pan over meat loaves when serving them.  Makes 8 servings.

Linking to these great parties.
Busy Monday
This Week's Cravings
Mangia Monday
Made by You Monday
Making Monday Marvelous
Moping It Up Monday
Must Try Monday
Melt in Your Mouth Monday

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap

If you want to have a little Christmas time fun, you might want to join this year's Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.  It is a wonderful opportunity to interact with some other bloggers, support a wonderful cause and to get a little something back.

This swap is hosted by Love and Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen.  The idea is that you sign up, make a batch of cookies from a recipe you have not yet posted on your blog and send one dozen to each of three bloggers.  In return, you get a dozen cookies each from three other bloggers.  On a specified day, everyone will post their cookie recipe, and there will be a giant link up party for all the recipes.  What a wonderful resource that will be.

This is the second year and there have been a couple of changes from last year.  The most important being that there is a $4.00 charge which is a contribution to the worthy cause of Cookies for Kid's Cancer.  The wonderful news is that Oxo will match all the contributions up to $100,000.  How great is that?  Oxo will also send each blogger a "Be a Good Cookie" spatula to use to whip up those cookie.

All the details can be found at the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap website.  The deadline for signing up is November 5th.  You can find all the details there.  I participated last year, and it was so nice to get those packages in the mail.  Who knows, if you sign up, maybe I will be sending cookies to you.

Raspberry Almond Coffee Cake

This week's Saturday sweet is coffeecake, which I really like, and don't know why I don't make it more often.  Recently I had some buttermilk that I needed to use up so turned to one of my favorite coffeecake recipes that came from a Sunset cookbook many years ago.

This an easy and simple coffeecake made with vegetable oil and buttermilk.  I like this one in that part of the dry ingredients are used to make the topping.

I wanted to change things up a little this time and decided to add a layer of raspberry jam in the middle of the cake.  This turned out to be a "good thing/bad thing."  The jam sunk to the bottom of the cake creating more of an upside down situation.  Everyone I shared this with, however, didn't care about that and loved the addition of the jam.  So, if you make this, use the jam, or not as you wish.  Putting the jam in a glass measuring cup and heating it in the microwave for a minute made it easier to spread.

To make the original coffeecake use coarsely chopped, toasted walnuts instead of the almonds and leave out the jam and almond extract.

 Raspberry Almond Coffee Cake
adapted from Sunset Ideas & Recipes for Breakfast and Brunch
2 1/4 c. all purpose flour
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. cinnamon
1 c. firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. slivered almonds, toasted
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1 c. buttermilk
1 egg
1/2 t. almond extract
1 c. raspberry jam

In a medium-size bowl, mix together flour, salt, the 1/2 t. cinnamon, brown sugar, sugar, and vegetable oil.  Beat with an electric mixer or a wire whisk until well blended.  Remove 3/4 c. of this mixture for the topping and blend into it the nuts and the 1 t. cinnamon; set aside.  To the remaining flour mixture, add soda and baking powder and mix until well combined.  Combine buttermilk, egg and almond extract and mix well.  Add to flour mixture and mix until smooth.  Pour half of batter into a greased 9x13-inch baking pan.  Place jam in a glass measuring cup and microwave for 1 minute.  Spoon over batter and gently spread out evenly.  Top with remaining batter.   Sprinkle the reserved topping evenly over batter and pat it lightly into the batter.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. Cool slightly and cut into squares.  Makes about 12 to 15 servings.  May be served warm or at room temperature.

Linking to these great parties:
Strut Your Stuff
Seasonal Inspiration
Weekend Potluck
I'm Lovin' It
Saturday Nite Special
Weekend Bloggy Reading

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday Finds

I "attended" Online Blogcon earlier this week and learned a great deal.  It did take up quite a bit of my computer time but was so well worth it.  One the best $15 I ever spent.

For this week's Friday Finds, I thought that I would share recipes I found at blogs of others who "attended" the conference also.

Sweet Treats and More

I have some apple cider left from making a pork tenderloin recipe last weekend.  I think that this would be a great use for some of it.  Hubby loves hot bread with dinner.

The Frugal Foodie Mama

I recently made apple butter in my slow cooker so have a lot of it on hand.  This also uses apple cider so I could use up some more of that.  As a bonus, this is a slow cooker recipe.

Couponing and Cooking

This time of year I want lots of soup recipes on hand to make comforting soups.  Chicken pot pie in a soup sounds wonderful.  There is also a recipe in this post for Honey Cornbread that looks delicious.

Will Cook for Smiles

What a simple easy way to make applesauce.  Just bake in the oven and run through a blender.  I am definitely going to try this idea out.
Life after Laundry

Everyone knows I just love it when I come upon a new homemade version of a commercially packaged product.  I make breadcrumbs from leftover bread so have plenty on hand to make this recipe.

Peanut Butter Sauce
The Farm Girl

Oh, the places I can find to use this.  Since I love peanut butter, what could be better than a sauce made with it?  This would make a simple dish of ice cream very special.

As always the photos were taken by and are the property of the owners of the respective blogs represented.

To see what other bloggers have discovered in their travels through the blogsphere this week, join me in clicking over to Friday Favorite Finds.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

12 Weeks of Christmas Treats-Tart and Tasty Lemon Bars


Time is moving along, and we are at week five of 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats hosted by Brenda from Meal Planning Magic

I am continuing with sharing recipes made with Holiday Cookie Mix.  Today was wet and rainy, cloudy and gray so I wanted to make something bright and cheery.  The answer was Lemon Bars.  These are just a take on the typical lemon bar cookie using the cookie mix for the crust.  By now you probably realize that the mix can be used as the crust layer for many different layered bar cookies.

This recipe works best if the eggs are at room temperature which does take a little advance planning.  If you forget to remove the eggs from the fridge and don’t want to wait for them to warm up, cover the eggs with warm water and let them set 10-15 minutes.  This is what I do most of the time as I rarely remember to get eggs from the fridge ahead of time.

Putting the lemons in a microwave for 30 seconds and then rolling them on the counter will help release the juice.  I use the back of a spoon to squeeze out all the juice that I can into a glass measuring cup.  I pour the juice through a sieve to remove any pulp when I add the juice to the egg/sugar mixture.

For a couple of variations, you can add 1/2 c. chopped nuts or flaked coconut to the crust mix.

I mentioned in my original post that more than 12 different cookies could be made with the cookie mix.  I am posting some bonus recipes on my Saturday Sweets post and so far have posted a recipe for Chocolate Cottage Bars.  I will mention it when I post additional recipes.

The sweet/tartness of these makes them a nice contrast when included in a Christmas cookie tray.

Tart and Tasty Lemon Bars
4 eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. flour
1/2 c. fresh lemon juice (2 to 3 lemons)
Powdered sugar
Measure cookie mix and press into a foil-lined and sprayed 9x13-inch baking pan.  Bake at 350 degrees 12 to 15 minutes.  Set aside to cook 5 to 10 minutes.  In a large bowl beat eggs with a wire whisk until thick and lemon colored.  Add sugar and flour and beat until smooth.  Beat in lemon juice until mixture is well blended.  Pour on top of baked crust and bake an additional 20 minutes or until set.  Place pan on a rack to cool.  Dust top with sifted powdered sugar.  Cut into bars.  Makes about 32 bars.  Store in the refrigerator because of the high concentration of egg.

There is still time to join us in the fun.  Go here for complete details on Brenda's blog.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Applelicious Pork Chops

Good Monday to all.  Thank you for taking time from your busy lives to stop and read my blog.  It is greatly appreciated.  I hope you find the information posted here useful.

A couple of weeks ago when I cooked up some apples for apple butter, I had extra applesauce so made one of our favorite pork dishes.

This is basically pork chops baked in applesauce gravy.  Applesauce goes so well with pork, and this dish takes advantage of that fact.  My applesauce was pretty chunky.  Purchased applesauce would be much smoother.  The brown gravy mix and onion turns the applesauce into a delicious apple flavored gravy to serve over the pork chops and rice, noodles or even mashed potatoes.  I don't use gravy mix often but love it in this recipe.  One could maybe use some instant beef bouillon instead.

It is an easy, simple dish that goes together quickly and then bakes in the oven allowing you to prepare the rest of your dinner.

Applelicious Pork Chops
4-6 pork chops
salt and pepper
1 envelope (3/4 oz.) brown gravy mix
1 c. water
1 c. applesauce
1 T. instant minced onion
1 T. mustard

Trim excess fat from chops season with salt and pepper, brown in a skillet and pour off excess fat.  Place in a greased 9x13-in. baking pan.  Stir remaining ingredients into drippings left in pan from browning chops.  Heat, scraping up any browned bits.  Pour over chops.  Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.  Serves 4-6

Linking to:  Hunk of Meat Monday
Melt in Your Mouth Monday
Must Try Monday
Mop-It-Up Monday
Making Mondays Marvelous
Made by You Monday
Mangia Monday
This Week's Cravings
Busy Monday
What's Up Wednesday

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Autumn Apple Salad/Dessert

Since, I really overwhelmed the blog with sweets this week, I thought that I would redeem myself a little and post a somewhat healthier dish for Saturday Sweets this week.

This can be either a salad or a dessert. I will admit that we eat this mostly as a salad. If you are a member of the “Fruit is Not Dessert Club”, you will probably consider it a salad, also.

The recipe has probably made its rounds around the web in one for or another, but it is my “go to” fruit salad recipe because it is so versatile. The only two ingredients that you must have are the undrained pineapple and the instant pudding. After that, anything goes. This can be made with fresh, canned and drained or thawed and drained frozen fruit. I use either lemon or vanilla flavor pudding. The lemon pudding will keep the apples white, but kids usually like this better made with vanilla pudding.  I use sugar-free.  Pineapple tidbits are smaller so I like to use them, but  chunks are OK.

I usually use a few maraschino cherries, quartered, for color, but if you prefer dried cranberries can be used instead.  Sliced banana may be added just before serving.

This is quick and easy and can be made ahead.

Autumn Apple Salad

1 (20 oz.) can pineapple tidbits or chunks, undrained
1 small pkg. instant lemon or vanilla pudding mix, can be sugar free.
1 small can mandarin oranges, drained
2 medium apples, peeled and chopped
1 can  (15 oz.) fruit cocktail, drained or 1 can peaches or pears, drained and chopped or 2 fresh peaches or pears, peeled and chopped
8 maraschino cherries, drained and quartered

Pour pineapple chunks into a serving bowl.  Add instant pudding mix and combine well.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Chill a few hours to combine flavors.  Makes 6 to 8 servings.

 Linking to:  Strut Your Stuff
Seasonal Inspirations
Weekend Potluck
I'm Lovin' It
Saturday Night Special
Weekend Bloggy Reading

Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday Finds

Since my own blog seemed to get overwhelmed with sweet things this week, I thought I should make up for it here.  So I am sharing some nonsweet recipes and ideas from my travels around the blogsphere this week.  First, more recipes to make with my slow cooker.

Hugs and Punches

An oriental-inspired dish for the slow cooker.  This one goes to the top of my "recipes to make with my slow cooker" list.

The Frugal Farm Wife

Another oriental-inspired recipe, and pork is one meat that I have been happy with when cooked in a slow cooker.  Another recipe going to the top of the list.

Chef in Training

Just 4 simple ingredients and a slow cooker.  I am not sure that it could get easier than this.  Maple and mustard are a great flavor combination.

Soups are a mainstay for the lunches we have at our house so I am always looking for new recipes to try.

Learning the Ropes One Recipe at a Time

At one time, I would not have used steak to make soup, but since ground beef is now as expensive to purchase as round steak, I think I will give this one a try.  It looks delicious and healthy.

Stella B's Kitchen

This is a meatless version which I want to try.  I have made a version with ground beef which we like a lot.

Kalyn's Kitchen

Kalyn shows an easy method of making minced garlic and freezing it.  The defrosted garlic can be kept in the refrigerator up to a week.


I am not sure that I have ever had Red Robin Seasoning, but I love to find new homemade seasoning mix ideas.  The dried tomato powder may be a little hard to find.  I may try tomato bouillon which I can get in the Hispanic section of my grocery store and leave out the salt and see what happens.

As always the photos were taken by and are the property of the owners of the respective blogs represented.

Join me in clicking on over to Finding Joy in My Kitchen's Friday Favorite Finds to see what other bloggers have found this week.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Improv Cooking Challenge-Raisinet Crunch Cookies

 This is the third Thursday and time for another Improv Cooking Challenge.  Thursdays is also the day for 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats so I am posting twice today.  Apparently this is a week of sweets for me.

The two ingredients chosen by Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker, the host of Improv Cooking Challenge, were oats and raisins.

I am not a fan of raisins, so I almost didn’t participate this month.  I like them in carrot and raisin salad and to eat out of hand, but have never cared for raisins in baked goods.  I do, however, like chocolate-covered raisins.  Weird, I know.

Since I am the Cookie Monster’s grandmother, I begin to think about using Raisinets (chocolate-covered raisins) in a cookie.  I found a cookie recipe that appealed to me in “The Cookie Jar” cookbook from Leisure Arts.  The recipe had many ingredients that I like in a cookie:  brown sugar, corn flakes, oats and coconut.  I substituted Raisinets for the raisins and was in business.

This is a cookie that is crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.  The chocolate around the raisins added much to this cookie.  These make a great after-school snack.

Raisinet Crunch Cookies
from “The Cookie Jar’
3/4 c. butter or margarine, softened
3/4 c. firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
2 c. crushed corn flake cereal
1 c. quick-cooking oats
1 c. sweetened, flaked coconut
1/2 c. Raisinets (this is the amount in a movie-size box I buy at Dollar Tree)

In a large bowl, cream butter or margarine and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla and beat until smooth.  In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and baking powder.  Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture and stir until a soft dough forms.  Stir in corn flakes, oats, coconut and Raisinets until well blended.  The dough will now be fairly stiff.  Drop by tablespoonsful about two inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.  Transfer to rack to cool.  Store in an air tight container.  Makes about 5 doz.

Check out the links below to find other great recipes using raisins and oats.  The ingredients for November's Improv Cooking Challenge will be sweet potatoes and honey.  If you would like to join in the fun, all the information including upcoming ingredient combinations can be found on Kristens Improv Page.

12 Weeks of Christmas Treats-Tropical Dreams


Here we are already at week four of 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats hosted by Brenda over at Meal Planning Magic.  I hope that your holiday goodie arsenal is being filled with all the wonderful recipes that are being posted.

As promised last week, here is a drop cookie recipe made from the Holiday Cookie Mix.  Eating this cookie will make your mind think of sunny beaches and warm breezes.  With pineapple, coconut and macadamia nuts, the tropics are just a bite away.

I like the pineapple to be very well drained for this so turn it out into a sieve over a measuring cup and let it sit for 15 or so minutes before I make the cookies.  I also press to pineapple down with the back of a spoon to remove any additional excess juice.  Save the juice for another use or just drink it for a treat. 

To toast the coconut, spread it in a shallow pie pan and bake at 375 degrees for about 5 to 7 minutes, checking every minute after 3 minutes.  It should just be getting golden brown around the edges.

The macadamia nuts really enhance this cookie, but almonds can also be used.

As a variation add 1 t. rum extract to make this into a Pina Colada cookie.

These make a nice addition to any Christmas cookie tray and are always a pleasant surprise. 

Tropical Dreams
1 (8 oz.) can crushed pineapple, well drained
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
1/2 c. toasted coconut
1/2 c. chopped macadamia nuts or almonds

Place cookie mix in a medium mixing bow.  In a small mixing bowl combine drained pineapple, egg and vanilla.  Mix until well combined.  Add pineapple mixture to cookie mix, stirring until mix is completely moistened.  Drop by teaspoonfuls onto foil-lined cookie sheet.  Bake at 375 degrees 10-12 minutes until just brown around the edges.  Remove to wire rack to cool.  Makes about 4 doz.

Check out the links below to see the great recipes that other bloggers have posted today.  There is still time to join in the fun.  Just see Brenda's post here for all the information. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Ingredient Spotlight-Praline Oatmeal Shortbread Squares

Today the Ingredient Spotlight over at Eat at Home is Oats.  What a versatile food this is.  From breakfast to lunch, to dinner, to dessert, oatmeal can be an ingredient in so many things.

I am sharing a very decadent bar cookie that includes oatmeal.   I give fair warning that eating these will put you on a sugar high before you know what has happened.  These are a tasty addition to any Christmas cookie tray.  Cut them small and eat them sparingly.

I created these from a couple of recipes I originally found in Farm Journal’s “Homemade Cookies” cookbook.

Praline Oatmeal Shortbread Squares
1 1/2 c. sifted flour
2/3 c. packed brown sugar
2/3 c. quick oats
1 c. butter
1 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. butter
3/4 to 1 c. chopped toasted pecans

Combine flour, 2/3 c. brown sugar and oats in a large mixing bowl.  With a pastry blender or your fingers, cut or rub butter into dry mixture until well blended and crumbly.  Pat mixture into a foil-lined 10x15-inch jelly roll pan.  Bake in a 300-degree oven about 35 to 40 minutes or until just set and golden.  Remove from oven and set aside.  Raise oven temperature to 350 degrees.  Combine 1 c. brown sugar and butter in a small saucepan.  Stirring constantly  bring to a full rolling boil.  Boil 1 1/2 minutes.  remove from heat.  Stir in the pecans.  Pour and spread over top of the baked layer.  Return to oven for 8 to 10 minutes.  Remove pan to wire rack to cool.  Cut into 1 1/2-inch squares while cookies are still slightly warm.  Makes 4 doz.

Linking to:  Ingredient Spotlight
Cast Party Wednesday
Wow Me Wednesday-Gingersnap Crafts
Wow Me Wednesday-Polka Dots on Parade
What I Whipped Up Wednesday
Show and Share Wednesday
Work It Wednesday

Monday, October 15, 2012

Online BlogCon

As the button above says, I'm attending Online Blogcon which is happening Oct. 22-24.  Just in case you haven't heard about this wonderful thing, I wanted to fill you in a little.
Have you ever thought that you might like to attend a blogging conference, but one or more things stood in your way.  Maybe it was the distance.  Maybe it was the cost.   Maybe it was childcare logistics. Maybe the timing was wrong.  Maybe you felt you were too new at blogging.    Maybe you just don't like getting out of your jammies.  Whatever it was, this is the solution.  
Dorothy from Crazy for Crust and Ashton from Something Swanky dreamed up the great idea of offering an online blogging conference just to meet all the above challenges.  They have lined up a wonderful group of "speakers" (you can see the list here) who will cover the following subjects.

-How to Begin Blogging
-First Year Blogging Blues
-Blog Design 101
-Social Media & Networking
-Blogging Communities

-Link Parties
-Pin-Worthy Posts/Photog.
-Recipe Development
-Keep the LOVE Alive

-How to Make Money
-Blogger/Life Balance
The presentations will be in the form of blog posts at the Online Blogcon site.  If you are busy with work or kid's activities, you can read the posts at your convenience.  Isn't that great?  There will also be lots of giveaways to enter.

For those living near some metropolitan areas (unfortunately I don't) there are meet-ups planned for the weekend after the conference.  The locations as of this post are:
Indianapolis, Indiana* NEW!
Phoenix, Arizona
Atlanta, Georgia
Southern California
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Raleigh/Wake Forest, North Carolina
St. Louis, Missouri
Madison, Wisconsin
Sacramento, California
Dallas, Texas
Provo, Utah

If you have read this far, you questions is probably what is the cost for this?  It is the mighty sum of $15.  Is this a bargain or what?  All that info is coming for a little, little price.  

You can find more information here or can go straight to registration here.  Just a caution, registeration closes Friday, October 19.  I hope to "see" you there.

Secret Recipe Club-123 Cookies

Happy Monday and welcome to my new followers.  As always thanks to all who take time from their busy lives to read this blog.  I hope the information I post here is useful.

My assignment for October Secret Recipe Club was Close to Home.  This blog which was started in 2009 is a very versatile blog that covers many areas:  recipes, reviews, crafts, giveaways.  There is something there for everyone.  Maria hosts Tiptoe Tuesday which is a giveaway blog hop and Friday Food Frenzy, which, of course, is a recipe blog hop.

There are many sweets recipes posted there which are made with chocolate.  Everything is always better with chocolate.  A couple that I want to make are Extra Easy Chocolate Chess Pie and Chocolate Banana Bread.

When it came time to make a recipe, I was very busy and short on time so ended up making a version of 123 Cookies.  Maria had made these with both chocolate chips and white chocolate chips.  Because I wanted to use Special K Chocolatey Delight cereal which has little squares of chocolate in it, I decided to use butterscotch chips to make these.

They turned out more like what I would consider candy than cookies.  I think that was because I needed to use more cereal.  The recipe called for 3 cups broken up cornflakes.  I had only 3 cups total of the Special K before breaking the cereal up.  I think next time I will measure the cereal after crushing it slightly.  The Special K did work so I would say that any combination of chips and flaked cereal could be used to make this.  This opens up a whole realm of possibilities for the cereal as there are many flaked cereals out there.

I did not have quite enough creamy peanut butter so I used some crunchy peanut butter for part of the peanut butter.  The original recipe said to use only creamy, but it seemed to work OK.  You could not really taste the peanut butter, it just seemed to enhance the butterscotch flavor.

At any rate, the butterscotch cookie/candy was very good and did not last long around here.

123 Cookies
from Close to Home Blog
1 (12 oz.) pkg. chocolate, white chocolate, or butterscotch chips
1 c. peanut butter
3 c. broken flaked cereal (measured after breaking up)

Place chips in a large, microwave-safe bowl and melt according to directions on package.  Stir in peanut butter until well mixed.  Add cereal flakes and stir until well coated.  Drop by teaspoonsful onto waxed paper-lined baking sheets.  Place in the refrigerator until firm.  Makes about 3 to 4 dozen.

This recipe was fun and easy and made a crunchy, delicious treat which will be among my Christmas goodies this year. Thanks, Maria.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Chocolate Cottage Bars

If you read this blog regularly you know that I a participating in 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats hosted by Brenda over at Meal Planning Magic.

This year I decided to do something a little different and share a wonderful homemade cookie mix and all the different cookie variations that can be made from it.  Since there are more than 12 cookie variations that can be made from this mix, I cannot get them all included in the blog party.  I have decided to post the rest of them here for Saturday Sweets.

I am going to repost the basic recipe today with a recipe for Chocolate Cottage Bars.  These have the unusual ingredient of cottage cheese in them.  They make a not-too-sweet, great after-school snack.

Since I love nuts, I always add them when I can.  Other optional ingredients that can be added to the bars are:  1/2 c. shredded carrots,  1/2 c. diced zucchini, 1/4 c. wheat germ, 1/2 c. chopped candied cherries, 1/2 c. miniature marshmallows.  One or more of these may be added as desired.

Holiday Cookie Mix
8 c. flour
2 c. white sugar
2 1/2 c. brown sugar
2 t. salt
4 t. baking powder
1 1/2 t. baking soda
3 c. shortening or butter
In a very large bowl, combine flour, white sugar, brown sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda.  Mix until thoroughly blended.  Cut in shortening or butter until mixture looks like coarse cornmeal.  Transfer to zip top bag or bags or a tightly covered container.  Store in the refrigerator if using butter.  Makes about 12 cups mix.

 Chocolate Cottage Bars
3 c. Holiday Cookie Mix
1/2 c. quick oats
1/4 c. cocoa
2 eggs
2 T. water
2 t. vanilla
1 c. cottage cheese
1/2 c. chopped, toasted nuts (I used walnuts)

Combine mix, oats and cocoa and mix well.  Combine eggs, water and vanilla.  Stir in to mix/oat mixture and blend well.  Stir in cottage cheese and nuts until well blended.  Mixture will be stiff.  Turn into a foil-lined 9x13-inch baking pan.  Pat out evenly with wet hands.  Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes.  Cool and cut into bars.  Store tightly covered to  keep soft.  Makes about 32 bars.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Friday Finds

I have not had much time to travel through the blogsphere this week, but I did find some slow cooker recipes to help me use mine more and some recipes to use those crescent rolls I always seem to have in my fridge.

Learning the Ropes-One Recipe at a Time

I made a batch of meatballs for the freezer last weekend.  This looks like a delicious idea to do with some of them.

High Heels and Grills

I have never gotten a roast cooked in a slow cooker to slice like the one in this photo.  Zach cooks his roast for a much shorter period of time than most directions call for.  Rump roasts are on sale this week so I want to give this a try.  

Cooking Up Good Times

I am always happy to find a new version of homemade season salt to try.  Everyone seems to have their own little twist to give it.  I think this would be good rubbed on the roast above.  This makes a big batch so I would probably reduce the recipe the first time I try it.

Semi Homemade Mom

I am always looking for new lunch menu ideas.  This looks like a delicious one to try.

Love Bakes Good Cakes

I have never eaten a White Castle Hamburger, but this is another good lunch idea, I think, and I always have ground beef and crescent rolls on hand it seems.

Crystal and Company

This is one of those "slap yourself upside of the head and say, Why didn't I think of that?" kind of recipes.  I made a big batch of slow cooker apple butter this week, but I'll bet any flavor of jam could be used here.  With some crescent rolls and jam in the fridge, one could be ready to make dessert at any time.
As always the photos were taken by and are the property of the respective bloggers represented.

I am linking to Friday Favorite Finds over at Finding Joy in My Kitchen.  Hop on over with me to check out other great recipes that bloggers have found this week.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

12 Weeks of Christmas Treats-Krispie Nut Bars

 We are now at week three of 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats hosted by Brenda over at Meal Planning Magic.  This week I have another bar cookie made with the Holiday Cookie Mix.  I love bar cookies because they are so quick and easy, but I promise that I will post some drop cookies made with the mix also.

The topping for these bars uses Rice Krispies and nuts.  Any kind of nuts may be used, allowing for many different flavors   The texture of the topping is much like pecan pie, so if you like pecan pie, you should like these.

 Krispie Nut Bars

3 c. Holiday Cookie Mix
4 eggs, room temperature
1/2 t. salt (omit if using salted sunflower seeds or nuts)
1 1/2 c. brown sugar
2 t. vanilla  (half almond extract if using almonds is good)
2 c. Rice Krispie cereal
1 c. chopped, roasted walnuts, pecans, slivered or sliced almonds, filberts or sunflower seeds

Stir cookie mix, measure, and place in a 9x13-inch foil-lined pan.  Press down into an even layer.  Bake in a 350-degree oven 15 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool 5 minutes.  Place eggs in a large mixing bowl and beat until thick and lemon colored.  Add salt, brown sugar, vanilla and mix well.  Stir in Rice Krispie cereal and nuts.  Spread on baked crust.  Be sure to stir well before spreading if the mixture has been sitting for any length of time.  The cereal and nuts will rise to the top causing the mixture to separate.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.  Let cool and cut into bars.  Makes 36 bars.

 Get a step ahead this holiday season, check out the links to other great holiday treats shared this week.  If you would like to join in the fun, you still can.  Brenda has the full details in this post.  You do not have to participate every week if you have one in which you are too busy.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ingredient Spotlight-German White Chocolate Chip Bars

The theme today over at Eat at Home’s Ingredient Spotlight is cake mixes.   I often make my own cake mix, but do keep commercial cake mixes on hand, especially flavors that are not easily duplicated at home.  German chocolate is one of those flavors.  It is true that German chocolate cakes can be made at home, but they must be made from scratch.

Recently I experimented with making bar cookies with cake mix.  I used a German chocolate cake mix and added chopped pecans, coconut and white chocolate chips which resulted in a brownie-like cookie with the flavor of a German chocolate cake.  Other flavors of chips can be used if desired.  Since I used only 1/2  cup, this is a chance to use up any small amounts of chips that may be left from other recipes.

These cookies are best kept in a sealed plastic bag to keep them soft.

German White Chocolate Chip Bars
1 German Chocolate Cake Mix (18 oz.)
1/2 c. water
1/4 c. salad oil
1 egg
1/2 c. chopped toasted pecans
1/2 c. flaked coconut
1/2 c. white chocolate chips

Place cake mix in a large mixing bowl.  Combine water, salad oil and egg.  Beat together well.  Pour liquid mixture into the cake mix and mix until well blended.  Stir in pecans, coconut and white chocolate chips, mixing well.  Pour into a foil-lined 9x13-in. baking pan.  Bake at 350 degrees 25 to 30 minutes.  Cool and cut into bars.  Makes about 36 bars.  Store in a zip-top plastic bag to keep soft.

Linking to: Ingredient Spotlight
Cast Party Wednesday
Wow Me Wednesday-Ginger Snap Crafts
Wow Me Wednesday-Polksdots on Parade
What I Whipped Up Wednesday
Show and Share Wednesday
Whatever Goes Wednesday 
Work It Wednesday

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Crazy Cooking Challenge-Apple/Pear Streusel Pie


Although I bake a lot, I rarely make pies, especially fruit pies.  When all my children lived at home, a pie would last maybe one day.  Each of us would have a piece and hubby maybe two, and it would be gone; while a cake or some cookies would have a chance to last at least a couple of days.  Making a pie crust and slicing up all that fruit just seemed like too much work.

When I saw that apple pie was the Crazy Cooking Challenge for October, I decided that I would be making a pie.  I also decided that the crust would come from the grocery store.  I like to use the frozen crusts because I get some pie tins that I can reuse.  I also get a nice, pretty edge with a frozen crust that I don’t get if I use the refrigerated ones.  Certainly make you own pie crust if you want, but don’t “beat yourself up” if you use one from the grocery store.  You will need a deep dish pie crust for this one.

I have admitted my love of streusel before and wanted to use it for this pie.  When a streusel topping is used on an apple pie, it is sometimes called a French or Dutch Apple Pie.  I had also seen an idea for making a pie with both apples and pears so that is what I decided to do.

One note of caution.  If you do not want to spend time cleaning your oven, place a foil-lined jelly roll pan or cookie sheet on a rack below this pie.  It is a very full pie and has a tendency to run over the pie pan.

I used Gala apples and Bosc pears and got a very sweet pie.  Using Granny Smith apples or reducing the sugar would probably result in a less sweet pie.

The pie needs to cool thoroughly in order to completely set up.  It can then be warmed for 45 seconds in a microwave and served with a scoop of ice cream if desired, and we desired.

Apple/Pear Streusel Pie
1 10-inch deep dish pie crust
3/4 c. quick oats
1/2 c. flour
1/3 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 c. chopped toasted walnuts
1/3 c. butter or margarine, melted
3/4 c. sugar
14 c. flour
1 T. cornstarch
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. salt
3 c. thinly sliced peeled and cored pears (about 3)
3 1/2 to 4 c. thinly sliced peeled and cored apples (about 3 to 4)

In a medium mixing bowl, mix together oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and walnuts.  Combine well.  Add melted butter or margarine and mix until mixture resembles small peas.  Set aside.  In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, flour, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.  Mix well.  Add pears and apples and mix until fruit is well coated with flour mixture.  Turn mixture into pie crust.  The fruit will need to be heaped up in the center.  Carefully sprinkle and pat streusel mixture over the fruit, covering it well.  Set a foil-lined baking pan on a rack under the rack on which you are baking the pie.  Place pie in oven and bake at 375 degrees 45 minutes until fruit is tender and topping is beginning to brown.  Remove from oven and place on a rack to cool completely.  Makes  6 to 8 servings.  Store any leftovers, covered,  in the refrigerator.

For more great apple pie recipes, just check out the links below.  Tina, our hostess for Crazy Cooking Challenge has all the information necessary to join in future challenges here.  The schedule for the next 3 months is:  November-stuffing, December-sugar cookies, January-French Toast so find your best recipe and join in the fun. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

A Little Photo Size Tip

Since I am posting a pie recipe tomorrow as part of Crazy Cooking Challenge, I am not posting a sweets recipe today.  I thought that I would take advantage of that to post a little photo size tip that I came across quite by accident.

When you add a photo to the blogger interface you have the choice of small, medium, large, extra-large and original-size for photo sizes.  I have been posting my photos in the large size as the extra-large size is too big for the center column of my template.  So that size looks like this.

Some of you may have noticed that my photos have gotten a little larger and now look like this.

I usually size my photos to 550 wide using picmonkey.  One day after I had uploaded a photo from my computer, I clicked original size by accident and the above size photo is what came up.  Now I use original size as the size for my photos and get a bigger photo to post without having to figure out how to make a bigger photo using HTML, which I know nothing about.

I usually use LiveWriter to write my posts, and I have found that this little trick does not work if you add the photos to it and then upload the whole post.  The photos must be posted from your computer into the blogger post interface.

Anyway, just thought I would share this little bit of knowledge for what it is worth.  Hope it helps someone.

Stop by tomorrow for a yummy apple/pear pie recipe.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Friday Finds

I meant to mention last week that 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats had started.  This is hosted by Brenda over at Meal Planning Magic.  I am using a homemade cookie mix as the basis for all my recipes.  I have  posted Glazed Cinnamon Toffee Bars and Buttermilk Rum Bars.  If you would like some new recipes for the Holidays, pop on over and check out the links.  If you would like to join the fun, you can find all the information here.

Leading my finds this week is a post I have been waiting for since May.

Silo Hill Farm

Danni is a craft blogger not a food blogger, but she does have some great recipes on her blog.  She gave hubby and me each a container of this when we visited in May.  It was absolutely delicious and addictive.  I have been waiting for her to post the recipe ever since.  We have all probably made caramel corn with regular popcorn, but this is made with something called puff corn (which I am not sure I can get in my neck of the woods), and that makes it very different from regular caramel corn.  I kid you not, this is soooo good!

Dining with Leslie

I recently scored some extra lean ground beef as a BOGO.  This looks like a delicious dish to make with some of it.  I like that this can be made with already frozen meatballs and sauce off the pantry shelf as well as made from scratch.

I Should be Mopping the Floor

This is definitely going on my list for the next time I make pork tenderloin.  Apples and pork are such a great flavor combinations, but Kristi says she uses the relish with other meats and poultry.  As an added bonus, this is a slow cooker recipe.

Picture Perfect Cooking

Another pork and apple combo, this one for a pork loin roast.  This is another one I am anxious to try.

Eat at Home

I know, I know I just can't seem to get away from recipes with apple in them.  Apples are just so wonderful this time of year.  Now, if you have ever wanted the taste of a baked apple or apple pie and you wanted it NOW, Tiffany has the  solution for you.  Wouldn't this make a great breakfast?  Everybody should know about this one.

Growing in Grace

This looks like a delicious recipe to make meatballs for that Meatball Sub Casserole I posted above.  She uses ground chicken so ground beef or ground chicken/turkey would be good, I think.

Baking and the Boys

If I see the word "maple" in a recipe title, you can be sure I will be checking it out.  Now this recipe not only said "maple" once, it said it twice.  It also said "pecan."  This one goes right to the top of my "to-make" cookie list. 

As always all photos were taken by and are the property of the owners of the respective blogs represented.

For more great finds by other bloggers this week, follow me on over to Friday Favorite Finds at Finding Joy in My Kitchen. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

12 Weeks of Christmas Treats-Buttermilk Rum Bars


It is week 2 of this year’s 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats hosted by Brenda over at Meal Planning Magic.

This is the second recipe that can be made from the Holiday Cookie Mix that I posted last week.
It is another bar cookie and contains another unusual ingredient, buttermilk.  This makes a cookie bar with a crisp crust topped by a somewhat custard-like topping.  The topping is flavored with rum extract and nutmeg.  If you like the flavors of eggnog, you should like these.  If you are not into those flavors, you can omit the rum extract and nutmeg and add 2 t. of freshly grated lemon rind for a lemon version.

These are very pretty on a cookie plate, but do need to be stored in the refrigerator due to the high egg content.

Buttermilk Rum Bars
Filling adapted from a Karo Syrup print ad
3 c. Holiday Cookie Mix
4 eggs
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. butter or margarine, melted
6 T. light corn syrup
1/4 c. flour
1 c. buttermilk
1 t. vanilla extract
1 t. rum extract
1 t. nutmeg
Sifted powdered sugar

Press Holiday Cookie Mix into the bottom of a foil-line 9x13-inch baking pan.  Bake at 350 degrees 15 minutes.  Let cool.  In a large bowl beat together eggs and sugar until thick and lemon colored.  Beat in butter, corn syrup, flour, buttermilk, vanilla, and nutmeg.  Pour over top of baked crust.  Bake at 350 20 to 25 minutes until edges just begin to brown and filling is set.  Cool completely.  Sprinkle with sifted powdered sugar.  Cut into bars.  Makes 36 bars  Can also be cut larger and served with whipped topping as a dessert.  Store in refrigerator.

Check out the links below to see all the treats other bloggers have made this week.  If you would like to join in the fun, you can find all the information on how to participate here.  You are welcome to join us anytime.

Ingredient Spotlight-Red Hot Baked Apple

I have never cared for the skin on apples so usually peel them when I eat them.  It seems that one can never know when the skin will be nice and tender or tough.

Baked apples are usually baked in their skins.  Many years ago I had a recipe called Crystal Apples in which the apples were peeled before baking.  I lost the recipe so have not made them in forever.  Recently I decided to recreate the recipe as best I could but add cinnamon red hot candies to the cavity of the apple.  This is not so much a recipe as a method, I guess.

A good baking apple is needed:  some choices are Golden Delicious, Braeburn, Jonathan, Jonagold, Cortland, Granny Smith, Winesap, Rome Beauty, Gala and Honeycrisp.  The apple variety available will depend on where you live.  I used Honeycrisp.  These all hold their shape well when baked.

I did bake mine a little too long and had my apple collapse.  Of course, that only affects the look of the apple, not the flavor.

Red Hot Baked Apple
Your choice of baking apples, 1 large apple per person
Melted butter, about 1 T. for each apple
Sugar, about 2 T. for each apple
Cinnamon Red Hot Candies, 1 T. for each apple or enough to fill apple cavity
!/4 to 1/2 c. water

Peel and core the apples.  With a pastry brush coat each apple with melted butter.  Place sugar in a shallow pie pan or dish.  Roll the apples in the sugar.  Place apples in a baking pan.  Spoon enough cinnamon red hot candies into the cavity of the apples to fill them.  Pour enough water into the baking dish to just cover the bottom.  Bake apples at 350 degrees for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until tender.  Carefully remove each apple to a dessert plate.  Spoon sauce from apple cavity over the apple.  Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream if desired.

Linking to:  Ingredient Spotlight
Cast Party Wednesday
Wow Me Wednesday
What I Whipped Wednesday
Whatever Goes Wednesday
Show and Share Wednesday
Look What I Made

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

"Fancied Up” Pork and Beans

I found this post in my drafts from back in July.  Although this is good any time of the year, it is more for summer, I think, so I thought I should get it up.

I can sometimes get pork and beans for .50 a can which is much cheaper than canned baked beans.  With a little help, the pork and beans make a great “stand-in” for baked beans.  In fact, hubby likes these better than baked beans.

The recipe started out as Teriyaki Beans and used Teriyaki Baste and Glaze.  I still make that often, but also make this with other sauces:  any flavor barbecue sauce is good, steak sauce, most any thick sauce.  You do not want a thin sauce for this as it will make the beans too sloppy.  You may also use various mustards to change the flavor.

The beans can be cooked in the oven or in a slow cooker, which is what I usually use, especially in the summer.  Add some sliced wieners, hot dogs or sausage, you have a great, easy and inexpensive one-dish meal.

Draining and rinsing one can of the pork and beans helps to keep the dish from being too saucy.

I clipped the original recipe from the newspaper many years ago.

“Fancied Up” Pork and Beans
2 cans (15 oz.) pork and beans, drain and rinse one can
1 can (15 oz.) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 c. minced onion (I often use 2 T. minced dried onion)
1/4 c. Teriyaki Baste and Glaze or other thick sauce
3 T. brown sugar (dark if you have it)
1/4 c. catsup
1 T. mustard (I use spicy brown mustard)
1 t. garlic powder

Mix all ingredient together until well blended.  Turn into a casserole or slow cooker (this is just the right amount for my 1 1/2 qt.).  Bake in a 300-degree oven for 1 hour or cook in the slow cooker for about 4-5 hours on low.  Make about 6 servings.

Linking to:  Trick or Treat Tuesday
Show Me What You Got Tuesday
Tuesday Talent Show
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday
Totally Tasty Tuesday
Tuesdays at the Table
Tasty Tuesday
Take a Look Tuesday
Get Your Craft On
Terrific Tuesday

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