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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Holiday Cookie Swap Recipes

As you can tell by the above graphic this is once again a collaborative effort to bring you all sorts of delicious, tried and true recipes from my blogging friends. Holiday Cookie Swap Recipes is all about providing you with great recipes for the upcoming holidays. You will be proud to give any of the recipes away as gifts, serve at your holiday party or have on your dessert buffet. The photos above are only a representation of the first 11 bloggers and myself to submit recipes. There's lots more to come!

Each blogger will have a link to the recipe on their page along with a link to their food pages on Facebook. This time I am going to do a small collage for each blogger and begin with the blogger who submitted the links first and go to the next submission, etcetera. Hope you enjoy this folks because I am having so much fun putting it together!

First up is Tara Noland of Noshing With The Nolands. Tara hails from Canada and delivers spot on recipes. I do appreciate her contributions here and consider Tara to be one of the best in the food blogging business.
Starting from left to right: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies. In the middle, Margarita Cookies. And finally, Best Peanut Butter Cookies.

Another wonderful contributor is Lynnette Moore (a.k.a. Nettie) of Moore or Less Cooking Blog. I find Lynnette's recipes to be great because everything has lots of flavor as you will soon be able to tell for yourself.

From the left we have Chocolate Clouds, then Easy Shortbread Cookies followed by Espresso White Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Next up is Janette Fuschi of Culinary Ginger. The cookie recipe she submitted is so similar to a cookie recipe my daughter and I made years ago now and these cookies are incredibly good. The cookies are called Florentine Cookies and are made with ground almonds. Light crispy and delicious especially with a chocolate drizzle.

Debi Wayland of Life Currents has contributed some of her best recipes for the swap. I am also glad that Debi submitted a small round up post for gifts and treats for the holidays.
Up first are Coconut Oat Cookies followed by Flour-less Chocolate Pecan Cookies and finally a small round up of Cookies, Bites, Gifts and Nibbles.

Nicky Omohundro of Our Little Family Adventure brings three wonderful recipes. One is a no bake recipe which is nice to have one of those recipes where you don't need the oven but have a lovely dessert option.
Kringla Cookies followed by Orange Balls which are the no-bake and German Sour Cream Twists which are a family recipe and one that her grandmother made.

My good friend and blogging buddy, Linda Feldman Shapiro of Meal Planning Maven contributed three wonderful recipes. Who can resist a good peanut butter cookie that also has chocolate chips in it? And lovely biscotti which makes a fabulous give a way gift item.

The first is Chewy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies followed by Dried Cherry 'n Pistachio Biscotti. And the last one is Baby Brownie Biscotti.

Michelle Nahom of A Dish of Daily Life submitted these next two family favorite recipes. Bar cookies are fabulous for swaps, a holiday table and for any party your invited to.

Who is going to be able to resist Chocolate Chip Granola Bar Cookies or Chocolate Hazelnut Butter Cookies?

Lori Vachon of Who Needs A Cape? sent over some great holiday recipes that I am excited to have here. Very festive and they look delicious.

First up are Candy Cane Cookies. Next are Triple Chocolate Coconut Cookies and then what I am sure will be a kid favorite, PB & J Thumbprint Cookies.

One of the most talented bakers I know is Mary Bostow of Bunny's Warm Oven. So many wonderful recipes on her blog and all made from scratch. These cookies are great for cookie swaps!
Left to right: Bakery Style Chocolate Chip and Pecan Cookies, Best Sugar Cookies, Soft and Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Pecan Cookies .

Christine Bailey Hadden of Foody Schmoody I'm Just Cooking submitted a recipe that reminded her of past Christmases. The recipe is for Italian Lemon Drop Cookies. What a wonderful addition to your cookie list.

Dan Zehr of Platter Talk has a blog that I love to read. I read his blog as if I were reading a page from a novel. His recipes - well they are wonderful and he brought along a few cookies from his repertoire.
I love the festive Cherry Red Nose Cookies, family recipe Grandma Brotherton's Ginger Cookies, and the Fudge Crinkles. All of these make wonderful additions to your holiday dessert table.

Nancy Fox of Skinny Kitchen takes recipes and makes them lighter, healthier for less calories and I am so happy she is one of our contributors. The first recipe is gluten free. For those concerned with over indulging on the holidays these recipes will help you out.
Skinny Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Chippers are followed by Holiday Sugar Cookies and Dreamy Magical Bars.

Our next contributor is Mary Ellen Seavey of That's My The recipes Mary Ellen submitted are so festive and look so delicious and I know you'll enjoy them. The Snowflake cookies are my favorite.

Peppermint Stick Cookies, Pecan Tartlets and Snowflake Cookies.

This next recipe comes all the way from Greece. Katerina Delidimou of Culinary Flavors contributed this wonderful recipe. Christmas Buttery Cookies - Kourabiedes. I do love this photograph! I am sure this will be welcomed by all your family and friends during the holidays.

Now for some bonus recipe additions. Some are mine and some are hot out of Bunny's Warm Oven.

Flourless Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies from Bunny's Warm Oven. For those of you who must be on a flour less diet, this is a great option.

I also discovered from Bunny's Warm Oven these beautiful  Whipped Shortbread Drop Cookies to add in to this holiday post.

From me, I recently posted Ruby Jewel Cookies that are so easy and so inexpensive to make followed by Devil's Oatmeal Chocolate Nut Cookies.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Slow Cooker Apple Spice Cake

Autumn apples are the best of the best for just plain eating. And they also do well in a variety of desserts. Our Swedish Cinnamon Apple Cake got devoured rather quickly in our house - good treats don't generally last that long in general.

My initial thought was to make an apple crisp using the apples we have in a basket waiting patiently for their turn to be used. However today when I went to the market I noticed boxed cake mixes on sale and just couldn't resist. I like the Betty Crocker® cake mixes and this super moist Spice Cake Mix almost leapt off the shelf and into my arms.

Knowing I could throw this together quickly, stick it in the crock pot and set a timer allowing me to do other things was a blessing. I love that this dessert cost so little to make, coming in at $3.43 on the nose! You can't buy a chemically laden pre-made box cake for that cheap. The mix I used called for 3 eggs, 1 cup water and 1/2 cup vegetable oil.

I made a rookie baking mistake that I must admit to. When you add fruit to a cake mix it will drop unless you lightly sprinkle the fruit with some flour. I did not do that but passing along the information to you so you don't make the same mistake.

Here's the easy recipe and directions:
  • 1 spice cake box mix - made according to directions
  • 5 small apples
  • cooking spray
  • bottled lemon juice 
  • sprinkling of flour
  1. Peel and core your apples and cut into 1/2 inch or less chunks. Sprinkle with just a little bit of lemon juice to keep them from browning.
  2. Make the cake mix according to manufacturer's directions.
  3. Spray the inside of the bowl of your crock pot liberally with cooking spray.
  4. Set the crock pot on low and let it warm up for a few minutes.
  5. Before adding in the apples give them a light sprinkling of flour.
  6. Add the apples to the cake mix and fold in.
  7. Pour in the batter.
  8. Get a sheet of aluminum foil for over the top. Put the lid on and fold the foil over the lid.
  9. Cook on low for about 1 hour and 50 minutes. Test the cake for doneness with a toothpick.
  10. Take the bowl out of the crock pot and allow to cool for about 15 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack.
  11. You can frost this cake with a cream cheese frosting or leave it plain. Either way, delicious.

This Slow Cooker Apple Spice Cake definitely fits into the season of fall flavors. It would be a welcome addition to your holiday dessert table.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Easy Weeknight Macaroni and Cheese

Let's just say I know lots of you are pressed for time out there and often wonder if you can make something that's delicious, homemade, easy and for not a lot of money, especially on a weeknight. With kids in school and families that have their children participate in various sporting activities or some kind of lessons you need easy meals.

I almost always had that boxed stuff on hand for the kids for them when they were old enough to make it for themselves. It served more as a snack than anything. Now that they are all grown up and out of the nest I do not buy it.

Yesterday I set out to see exactly how much time it would take me to make a home made macaroni and cheese that was tasty and would serve 4-6 portions. Up until now I followed the way my mother always made her delicious macaroni and cheese and from start to finish it took about 3 hours. I've found a way to do this so that from start to finished you are looking at just a little bit over an hour; start to finish.
  • 2 - 10 oz. bars seriously sharp cheddar cheese 
  • 1/2 box penne pasta - cooked to manufacturer's directions
  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • cooking spray
  1. Preheat your oven or toaster oven to 375 °.
  2. Get your water started in a pot for the pasta.
  3. While the water is heating up, make a roux by melting the butter in a medium sauce pot over medium to medium low heat. When the butter is almost melted add in the flour and cook and whisk for about 2 - 3 minutes until you cook out the raw flour taste. To the roux, slow pour in the milk and keep whisking until incorporated fully. Turn the heat down to low.
  4. Using a box grater or an attachment on your food processor, shred 1 full bar of cheddar cheese and just about 1/3 of the second bar. Wrap the remaining cheese in plastic and store in the refrigerator.
  5. By this time the pasta water is probably boiling, so add your salt to taste to the pasta water and cook to manufacturer's directions.
  6. While the pasta is cooking, add in some of the shredded cheese and keep whisking until it melts. I put in about 2/3rds of the cheese in the sauce.
  7. Drain your pasta and rinse under cold water. Spray your casserole with cooking spray.
  8. Finish melting in more cheese if you haven't done so already.
  9. Using the same pasta pot add the pasta back in and pour in the cheese sauce you've made. Stir to combine and pour all of it into your sprayed casserole dish. Take the rest of the cheese and place it on the top.
  10. Bake uncovered in a 350° oven for 30 minutes. Set the oven to broil and broil for about 5-7 minutes until the tops is bubbly and golden brown.

You want it to be golden brown like it shows in this picture.

I got my cheese at 2 for $4.00 which helped keep this lower in cost. The pasta was on sale for 10 for $10.00 as well. This dinner cost me $5.34 to put together. If you think you need a protein along side then hot dogs, kielbasa or ham go beautifully with this. As for vegetables most any will go with the cheesy goodness of the dish.