The best cookies for decorating… a holiday tradition!

Christmas Cookies!

Christmas Cookies!

Growing up we had a tradition in our house… Christmas cookies… bake them and decorate. There was nothing better! To top it off they are the tastiest you will ever eat! The frosting sets so they don’t get smushed into each other. You don’t need any special tools (we use zip top storage bags). Make and bake the cookies. Then make the frosting. Scoop some of the “white” into a zip top bag, then divide the frosting into bowls of whatever other colors you like. (Red, green and blue is what we usually did, in addition to white). Add food coloring to each bowl and get it the color you like. A good “grinch” green mix blue and yellow food coloring until you hit that great green… or if you don’t feel adventurous, just use the green food coloring. Next, snip the very corner of the bag, and the frosting will flow through that to decorate. Easy and so much fun. You really see the artsy folks stand out here! Click HERE to print the recipe minus all the photos, etc.

Decorate however you like, neat, messy, in whatever colors you create!

Decorate however you like, neat, messy, in whatever colors you create!

 

CHRISTMAS BUTTER COOKIES

Sift 2 3/4 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

In mixer bowl add 3/4 cup soft butter, 1 cup sugar, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla.

Beat until fluffy and light. Slowly beat in flour mixture. CHILL ONE HOUR.

Flour your work surface and roll out dough. Use cookie cutters to cut into desired shapes.

Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

YIELD: 4 dozen (IF you don’t eat the dough… good luck to ya!)

FROSTING

Mix 1/4 cup butter, 4 cups (1 box) confectioner’s sugar, 1/4 cup scalded cream and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Blend until smooth. Scoop into separate bowls and add food coloring (hint: yellow and blue mixed makes an awesome ‘grinch’ green). Scoop colored frosting into Ziplock bag (doesn’t have to be Ziplock, any zip top is fine, I use freezer quart size bags) and snip a little off the corner. Squeeze onto cookie to decorate! If you need the frosting thinned a bit more, I have great luck just using light cream, add a little at a time until it will easily come out of the bag to decorate.

 

F L A S H B A C K

O N E   Y E A R   A G O…        Plans to make, gifts to take… remember the reason for the season!

T W O   Y E A R S   A G O…   Thank you to artist Dan Corey, an artist who knows the reason for the season!

Catch you back here tomorrow!

Handmade wooden painted ornaments… treasures!

Christmas ornaments made by Joe Fidler

Christmas ornaments made by Joe Fidler

I have a gorgeous collection of Christmas ornaments that my dad made. I made one, can’t remember which one, I think it turned out too thick for my liking…  he really made each one so different, and they look festive displayed in this wooden bowl that he made. He’s a handy kind of guy. If I was in MI I would be learning how to make all this stuff… treasures!

Are you getting everything on your list accomplished? Well, no worries, me either, ha ha! It’s what the holidays are all about! Have a great day!

F L A S H B A C K

O N E   Y E A R   A G O…        Yet another wicked cool sky!

T W O   Y E A R S   A G O…   Recipe for butter Christmas cookies with frosting – beautiful to decorate!

Catch you back here tomorrow!

Short Rib Vegetable Soup Recipe… perfect for a cold day!

Short Rib Soup

Short Rib Soup

This recipe has been a family favorite for as far back as I can remember. My mom and dad are both excellent in the kitchen, and this is one of those soup’s you can throw together with whatever sounds good at the time, which is convenient. Add vegetables that take the longest to cook earlier in the recipe, and others that cook quickly (spinach), towards the end. Any spices that you enjoy will work well. I can remember having this with amazing French bread growing up! Hope you enjoy one of my staple recipes… click HERE to print this recipe without photos…

RECIPE

To recap…

Set out your ingredients, wash potatoes, greens, etc. if using…

Brown the short ribs in a little olive oil – use a heavy bottom pan if possible…

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Chop, chop, chop… Sometimes I sauté the carrots with the onion/celery, sometimes I don’t… whatever… easy peasy, no worries!

This time I browned the short ribs and got nice crusties on the bottom of the pan, and THEN I sautéed the onion and celery… Last time I did it all together. No rules… do what you like!

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Saute veggies…

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Add short ribs back to the pot… when this soup is done the meat will fall off the bone… heavenly!

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Add that biggee can of tomatoes and juice, as well as at least one big can of water (or more)…

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Add the beef consommé…. this gives it a nice rich flavor…

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Add the big carton of beef broth… as the soup cooks down add more broth/water…

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And any spices you like…

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The secret is the center of the celery stalk with the leaves, throw it in whole…  this will give the soup an amazing flavor!

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Now, take the meat off the bone and fat – toss it back in the pan… yum!

Now… a story about the photo… if that baguette looks frozen, it’s because it is! I made soup yesterday for dinner with a hot, crusty baguette. I took photos along the way, but then we were hungry… so we ate. Once the soup was in the fridge… Dang it! I realized I had forgotten to take a photo… so I just had lunch, and snapped a photo… baguette was frozen to use at a later date, but it looks nice, huh? Hee….

F L A S H B A C K

O N E   Y E A R   A G O…        Featured Artist… Karin Olah Knowlton!

T W O   Y E A R S   A G O…   Med Pasta Recipe (shrimp, feta, spinach pasta, artichokes!)

Catch you back here tomorrow!

Grandma’s Fruitcake Recipe!

Fruitcake!

Fruitcake!

Fruitcake gets poo poo’d, I’m not sure why… I’m pretty sure this one will change your mind! This is a recipe that my Grandma Fidler used to make, and I still remember the wonderful smell of it! Then the recipe magically appeared in a Christmas card from my aunt. What a cool idea to share my grandma’s famous fruitcake recipe with us all! I made it and it was so delicious I cannot tell you! She brushed on brandy (several times) after baking, and wrapped in brown paper. That part isn’t on the recipe, so wing it if you like, or don’t do it at all… it’s good either way! First the recipe… and then the images to show you how easy it really is! Click HERE to print the recipe minus the photos…

Grandma’s Fruit Cake

Ingredients – (Yield: Makes 2- 9” loaves)

1 ½ cups Raisins 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 ½ cups Chopped Dates 2 teaspoons Cinnamon
2 Cups Sugar 1 teaspoon Ground Cloves
2 cups Boiling Water 1 teaspoon Salt
5 Tablespoons Shortening 1 cup Chopped Nuts
3 cups All Purpose Flour 1 cup Candied Fruit
2 Eggs

Directions

In a large saucepan add the boiling water and stir in the raisins, chopped dates, sugar and shortening. Bring contents to boil and then let simmer gently for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Place cooked mixture in cool place until thoroughly cooled.

After the boil...

After the boil…

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl add Flour, Baking Soda, Cinnamon, Ground Cloves and Salt.

Mix together dry ingredients...

Mix together dry ingredients…

Blend together then add eggs.

Add cooled fruit mixture...

Add egg...

Add eggs…

Stir in the cooled mixture adding the chopped nuts and candied fruit last.

DSCN1442Divide into 2 well-greased and floured large loaf pans (9”x3”x3” deep) and bake for approximately 1 hour 15 minutes. Use toothpick near end of baking time to check center of loaf. Cooking times vary.

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Ready for the oven!

Ready for the oven!

Do you smell that yummy goodness filling your house? Ahhhh, this is wonderful!

Ta da!

Ta da!

Note: Cooking time varies with size of loaf pan, a medium (8×3”) bakes approximately 1 hour and mini loaf pans (5 ½ x 3”) bake approximately 45 minutes.

Hope you enjoy!!

F L A S H B A C K

O N E   Y E A R   A G O…       Featured Artist… Eric Aho!

T W O   Y E A R S   A G O…   Gift Idea from Life Is Good!

Catch you back here tomorrow!

Rustic Apple Tart recipe…

Rustic Apple Tart

Rustic Apple Tart

I love running across an intriguing recipe and giving it a whirl! I had received an email from Martha Stewart – Everyday Food – with this fabulous “recipe” in it for a Rustic Apple Tart. I say “recipe” because it was a video link, which is great, but there was no recipe… and to remember each step when you haven’t worked with puff pastry much in the past seemed to be a little dangerous to me, ha ha… So here is the “recipe” as well as the link to their video (which is amazing, be sure to watch it first, Sarah Carey did a great job with the quick demo!). There are only a few ingredients, it’s fairly quick to make and it comes out absolutely gorgeous! Tasty, beautiful and very professional looking, thanks to the glaze that goes on top (which doesn’t really add to the taste, just the beauty). Click HERE to print the recipe only.

RUSTIC APPLE TART

Puff Pastry (1 sheet)
3 Granny Smith Apples
1/3 cup sugar (or a little less)
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp water
Defrost puff pastry in refrigerator.
Once defrosted, leave folded and roll out to 8×14 on a lightly floured surface.
TRIM EDGES – need a clean edge, otherwise it won’t puff up, she used a pizza cutter
Place on baking sheet and PUT IN FREEZER 10-15 minutes (this is very important)!
Filling:
Peel and core 3 Granny Smith Apples, cut into 1/4″ slices
Add 1/3 cup sugar (or less) and mix.
In separate bowl, mix 1 large egg YOLK (discard white) and 1 tsp water, set aside.
Dough out of freezer.
Brush on egg wash (don’t let drip down the sides, it could inhibit it from rising)
Create border 3/4″ from edge, cut halfway through dough with a knife.
Arrange apples within border.
Dot the top of the tart with 2 Tablespoons of butter.
Bake at 375 for 30-35 minutes.
While tart is still warm mix up this glaze…

Glaze

2 Tablespoons of apricot jam or apple jelly
1 Tablespoon water
Mix and heat until warm.
Brush this mixture on the tart while it’s still warm.
Cut and serve!

F L A S H B A C K

O N E   Y E A R   A G O…       Featured Artist… Matt Linz!  

T W O   Y E A R S   A G O…   The Hump Bar from the set of ARMY WIVES… Charleston, SC

Catch you back here tomorrow!

Homemade Cranberry Bread – it couldn’t be easier!

Cranberry Nut Bread

Cranberry Nut Bread

This is a fabulous recipe that you may have run across before… it’s on the back of the Ocean Spray Cranberry bag (fresh cranberries in the produce department). This is the perfect time of year to pick up a few bags. Cranberries freeze well and you can make your own cranberry sauce (you will not believe how quick and easy it is – you will never run to the store for it again!)…. and the taste?? SO. MUCH. BETTER. THAN. CANNED.

This cranberry nut bread  will make your house smell amazing! Here’s the link to the recipe on Ocean Spray’s website so you can print it easily if you need to!

CRANBERRY NUT BREAD

(Recipe courtesy of Ocean Spray):

Ingredients:

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
2 tablespoons shortening
1 egg, well beaten

1 1/2 cups Ocean Spray® Fresh or Frozen Cranberries, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.

Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a medium mixing bowl. Stir in orange juice, orange peel, shortening and egg. Mix until well blended. Stir in cranberries and nuts. Spread evenly in loaf pan.

Bake for 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely. Wrap and store overnight. Makes 1 loaf (16 slices).

To recap:

Mix together dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder/soda, salt)

Dry ingredients...

Dry ingredients…

Then add the wet ingredients, orange juice, orange peel, shortening and egg, once mixed together add the fresh cranberries and chopped nuts and pour into prepared pan…

Ready for the oven!

Ready for the oven!

Pop it into the oven, sit back, have a tea and wait… ooooh, smell that wonderful smell… it’s delicious hot, cold and it freezes well!   E N J O Y !

Ocean Spray Cranberry Nut Bread

Ocean Spray Cranberry Nut Bread

F L A S H B A C K

O N E   Y E A R   A G O…       Scandinavian Bean Salad recipe, GREAT with Turkey!

T W O   Y E A R S   A G O…   Artist to watch… Michael Chamberlain!

Catch you back here tomorrow!

Pizza on the grill… Quick. Easy and too good for words!

Grilled Pizza

Grilled Pizza

A friend and I were walking one morning and she was telling me about how they made grilled pizza… Grilled pizza? I had heard of it, but dough on a grill? Seems like a sticky nightmare. I’m here to tell you it is LIFE CHANGING! Seriously. It’s so quick and easy and you can change it up with different toppings! I found a website that gave direction on how to grill a pizza (SimplyRecipes.com) – I’m telling you… this is one you want to try! Check out the link I provided for details, but here is what I did:

HOW TO GRILL PIZZA

I bought pizza dough at the grocery store. Many stores now have it in their bakery section. You can also make it yourself, either way works!

Turn your grill on high.

Get your toppings ready, because once the pizza comes off the grill you work swiftly to get it back on, so it’s important to have everything ready to use… The top pizza I used pizza sauce, cheese, fresh mushrooms* and fresh basil. I had posted this photo on Facebook and mentioned that it was beyond fabulous, but the mushrooms made it a little watery, and I received a comment back from a master pizza maker… the secret? Sauté the mushrooms first! Tada! That did the trick!! You can make it traditional with pizza sauce or step out of the box and try just olive oil, cheese, red onion and olives – that was nice too…

Ok… next step… let the dough sit in a olive oil coated (lightly) bowl with a clean towel over it for about 30 minutes.

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Then shape the dough, first by flattening with hands, then pick up and let it hang to stretch. I find this approach works best. You can use a light dusting of flour to keep it from sticking to the counter/your hands, etc. I cut the dough in half first and I make two pizzas with one package of pie dough, it seems easier to handle that way.

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Shape them how you like, they don’t have to be round… I like my funky shapes… Place them on a rimless baking sheet or an upside down cookie sheet. If the dough seems sticky, dust with a little cornmeal or flour…

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Once the grill is hot, oil the grates with olive oil. We used paper towels dipped in olive oil and used tongs…

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Slide the crust on to the grill (or sometimes it’s easier to pick it up and plop it on the grill, whatever works for you)…

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Then IMMEDIATELY CLOSE THE GRILL… cook approximately 2 minutes, check it if you smell burning. It’s ok for the crust to get charred a bit. You can check it part way through to see if its browning evenly, if not rotate it a bit if you can. Ours has never taken more than 2 minutes.

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Now remove the dough from the grill, and place on the rimless baking sheet COOKED SIDE UP.

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Make a mad dash to wherever your toppings are located, hopefully nearby… place the toppings on the cooked side of the dough. Add sauce or olive oil, then cheese, veggies, meat, but go lightly on top or it will be soggy and heavy. This one was made with olive oil instead of sauce, asiago cheese (Trader Joe’s!), red onion (next time I would sauté first) and olives.

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Time to get it back on the grill!

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and… CLOSE. THE. LID. Wait about 2-3 minutes until cheese is bubbly and bottom starts to char.

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Then sit back and enjoy! Have you ever tasted crust like that? So heavenly light and crispy… just like it was made with a wood burning oven. Out of this world!!

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F L A S H B A C K

O N E   Y E A R   A G O…       Winslow Homer – The Veteran in a New Field

T W O   Y E A R S   A G O…   Live Oak Beauty on the Water in Meggett, SC

Catch you back here tomorrow!

A Bowens Island Sunset…

Bowens Island - Charleston, SC

Bowens Island – Charleston, SC

Taking a few days off so I’m sharing a photo with you… back to regular posting soon!

A friend was in town and we headed to Bowens Island restaurant… sooo good! Look at this sunset! Out of this world!

F L A S H B A C K

O N E   Y E A R   A G O…        Featured Artist… Kirk McBride!

T W O   Y E A R S   A G O…    Daylight Savings Time Ends… (2011)

Charleston Photo… The buildings just can’t be beat…

Charleston, SC

Charleston, SC

I’m giving myself a little vacation… nice, eh? So for the next few days I’m going to spring a few Charleston photos on you…

GREAT city… beautiful architecture, fabulous food, amazing art… what’s not to like about Charleston?

F L A S H B A C K

O N E   Y E A R   A G O…       A nice peacefully quiet Monhegan Island wharf…

T W O   Y E A R S   A G O…   Surgery, Chemo and the END of Radiation… GO MOM!!

Catch you back here tomorrow!

Charleston Photo: Lucky Chalm at Crosby’s Seafood…

Lucky Chalm at Crosby's Seafood near Folly Beach

Lucky Chalm at Crosby’s Seafood near Folly Beach

There is nothing better than the deck party at Crosby’s Seafood… where you can grab a plate of fried shrimp and sit on the dock… its a great time especially around the time of sunset when you can get some amazing photographs! This photo happened to be taken earlier in the day… Crosby’s has fresh shrimp, fish and oysters as well as bait, beer and ice! Check it out if you’re in the area!

F L A S H B A C K

O N E   Y E A R   A G O…      Daylight Savings Time ends… Set clocks BACK one hour… 

T W O   Y E A R S   A G O…   Charleston’s Fine Art Weekend and a fine example.. the Wentworth Mansion by Jennifer Smith Rogers!

Catch you back here tomorrow!