Cookies Delivered

A friend of mine made this drink for me last year. It is very tasty. You take a wine glass, put a shot of whiskey in it, add a cup of hot coffee, mix in a couple lumps of sugar (or not); stir. Top with freshly whipped cream, a sprinkle of sugar, and freshly grated nutmeg. I like a little cinnamon, too.

Very yummy.

On Christmas Eve I got all of my cookies wrapped and ready to be delivered. I wrapped almost 100 little baggies filled with goodies. The fudge, I put in waxed paper instead of baggies. I underestimated how much I had made and the gift bags were overflowing.

I didn’t get a picture of the gift bags before they left the house. I had a lot of fun baking those cookies, trying a few new recipes and whipping up some old favorites. I think I might have added a few pounds to my midsection in the process, though.

Hershey’s Best Brownies

My family loves brownies (especially warm ones with ice-cream), and I simply have not, in all my years, found a made-from-scratch recipe that renders a good brownie. I like them chewy. I end up settling for boxed brownies all the time. They are good, but I prefer to make them myself (from scratch) I like to eat the sides and the corners because they are the chewiest pieces. Most recipes I’ve tried either taste nothing like brownies, or they are too cake-like.

On a whim I decided to try a recipe from the Hershey’s site titled, Hershey’s Best Brownies.  The family, always the brownie critics, gave them a thumbs up – which is a step in the right direction. As far as flavor goes, they were delicious. I’m still working a bit on the chewy part (they were given out as gifts and I didn’t have a real chance to “test” them) and will make them again to try. But for the most part, this is a recipe I can work with. If I can find a brownie recipe that I can make from scratch and not have to buy a box for, I’ll be happy.

HERSHEY’S Best Brownies

* 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine
* 2 cups sugar
* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 4 eggs
* 1 cup all-purpose flour
* 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 cup chopped nuts(optional)

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 13x9x2-inch baking pan.

2. Place butter in large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at MEDIUM (50%) 2 to 2-1/2 minutes or until melted. Stir in sugar and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well with spoon after each addition. Add cocoa; beat until well blended. Add flour, baking powder and salt; beat well. Stir in nuts, if desired. Pour batter into prepared pan.

3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Frost if desired. Cut into bars. About 36 brownies.

After Christmas Shopping

Yesterday I dropped my older son off at wrestling practice, and then I hit the after-Christmas sales. Target was my first stop. I was dismayed when I walked in the door and saw a 30% off sign, worried that the days of 50% off Christmas merchandise were over. But Target persevered and, back in the corner, there was plenty of goodies to choose from. I hit the paper, the ornaments, plates, lights… I picked up a good amount of decorations already (at Goodwill) for a more-than-reasonable price, so I wasn’t so much shopping for those. But I do like to find paper plates and cups on clearance, and the wrapping paper. I get some for next year Christmas and some as neutral as possible, for wrapping gifts during the year. Last year when we made the switch to cloth napkins I found the best deal ever on cloth napkins.

After Target I hit Shopk-o. And I have to say, they be a wee bit greedy on their “sale” prices. They boast of 70% off, but when you see what the starting price was, you’re hardly getting a deal. I picked up a cute snowman potholder (figuring I could use it all winter) and it rung up at $4.29.

That’s the SALE price?!

The cashier nodded, and then said under her breath, Yeah. That’s the “sale” price. I picked up a couple things too and once I rung them up, I put them back.

Girl, I can see why. Oh well.

I hit Wal-mart, too, and they still had some candies and fragrance sets left. I picked up a candy dish (have been looking for one for a while) in the shape of an egg.

There were a lot of shoppers out, but nothing like two days before Christmas, which I’d call the New Black Friday, ’cause it was cur-ay-zee.

Do you hit the sales (or avoid them) after Christmas? Is there anything that you specifically look for when you go? Any tips on finding the good stuff?

Saltine Crunch

I finally finished all of my cookie baking, packaged them up and delivered. It was quite an undertaking, but a LOT of fun.  I’ll post pictures soon. Too tired tonight, though and still need to stuff some stockings.

This recipe is all over the place, so I take no credit for it. But it is SUPER duper easy and strangely tasty with the sweet, salty, crunchy combination in the simplest form.

approx. 1.5 sleeves of saltine crackers
1.5 cups of chocolate chips (you can mix chocolate and butterscotch or use white chocolate, etc.)
1 stick butter
1 cup brown sugar

Line a jelly roll pan with tinfoil; lightly grease with Crisco. Place a layer of saltines, side-by-side, covering the entire bottom of the pan. On medium-low heat, melt butter and sugar in a saucepan until bubbly; stirring often. Pour over saltines, use a spatula to smooth and distribute across the crackers. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top. Place in heated oven (350 degrees) for a few minutes – long enough to soften the chips, but be careful and do not burn them. Remove from oven and use the spatula to spread evenly. Cool completely; break into pieces. Enjoy or package for gifts. Easy!!

You could grind up nuts and sprinkle those on top before the chocolate cools, or use white chocolate and sprinkle with crushed peppermint candies for a Christmas treat.

Late Night

One-day in the office work week. Cramming.

Exchanging videos at Blockbuster.

A trip to the Dollar Tree.

Last minute cookie-making.

Online gift ordering.

Writing a Christmas/New Year/Annual family letter.

Stopping at a friend’s house for a cocktail and Christmas cheer.

Crab, shrimp, broccoli, asparagus, olives, bars, figs, chocolates. Yum.

Brushing my teeth with a brand new toothbrush.

A late night.

Girlfriend’s Graham Cookies

I posted this recipe years ago after visiting my girlfriend in Minnesota and pigging out on her cookies. I never asked if she noticed how her cookie stash seemed to diminish every time I “went to the bathroom” or “got a drink of water.” It is probably a good thing that I forgot about them for a while because they are one of my most favorite cookies in the entire world. Yes, they are that yummy. They remind me a bit of the Girl Scout Samoa cookies. But better. Yes, I said it. BETTER.

Again, though, I caution. This is a dangerous dough. Word to the wise – this is an edible batter. There are NO eggs in it. For cookie dough eaters, your moment has arrived and you will be in grave danger of having a very small turnout of actual baked cookies if you do not restrain yourself. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya, sista-girl.


1/2 C. graham cracker crumbs
1/2 C. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 (14oz.) can sweetened, condensed milk
1/2 C. butter, softened
1 1/3 C. flaked unsweetened coconut
1 (12oz.) bag of chocolate chips (or 2C.)
1 C. chopped walnuts

Mix crumbs, flour and baking powder in one bowl. In another bowl, beat butter and milk until creamy; add to crumb mixture and combine. Add coconut, chips and walnuts; combine. Place tablespoon-sized balls on cookie sheet about 3 inches apart.

Bake for 10-12 min @ 375 Be cautious in the baking process, these will go from good to burnt rather quickly… take them out when the edges are browned and the top starts to look toasty. Let cool for a few minutes before removing them. Once finished, box up half of the cookies, and send them via overnight to my address. Gracias.

Christmas Wreath Cookie Krispies

The picture isn’t great, but the cookies are delicious. These wreathes stir up fond memories for me from when I was a kid. My mother made these cute little treats and I remember helping her (and eating them) – fun recipe for kids to help with (or for moms to make on their own). They are a simple recipe that comes out looking very festive.

Christmas Wreath Cookie Krispies

1 box (about 15oz.) Corn Flakes (or the generic equivalent of)
1.5 bags of mini-marshmallows
1 stick butter
green and blue liquid food coloring (or just green, I used blue to deepen the color)
1 bag of Red Hot ( or other cinnamon dot candies)
1T. butter or vegetable shortening

You make the treats just as you would rice krispies (melt butter in large saucepan on med-low, add marshmallows; stir until melted). Then add about 15 drops of green and 5 of blue food coloring to melted marshmallows. Stir. Add cereal. Stir until completely mixed (do this as gentle as possible, as not to crush the flakes). Let it cool for a while so it is less sticky to work with. Once it is cooled and a bit firm, rub a small amount of the shortening onto your palms so the marshmallow-flakes don’t stick to your hands. Start taking small handfuls (about 1 1/2 golf-ball size), working into a circle. Press and flatten a bit, poking a hole through the center with your finger or the end of a spoon. Place on waxed paper and dot with a few of the Red Hot candies. Let them completely harden up before serving.

Fight over who gets to scrape and lick the pot. Yum.

Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

Cookie-making day, today. Actually, I think I’ll be making cookies for a few days, considering I didn’t start making them until 8pm.

Here is the first recipe – one of my favorite – “Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies” (link), or “Peanut Butter Blossoms” – whatever you call them, I love them. The recipe below is from the Hershey site. They have a decent list of recipes there. Worth checking out.

Peanut Butter Blossoms

* 48 HERSHEY’S KISSES Brand Milk Chocolates
* 1/2 cup shortening
* 3/4 cup REESE’S Creamy Peanut Butter
* 1/3 cup granulated sugar
* 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
* 1 egg
* 2 tablespoons milk
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* Granulated sugar

1. Heat oven to 375°F. Remove wrappers from chocolates.

2. Beat shortening and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture.

3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet.

4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately press a chocolate into center of each cookie; cookie will crack around edges. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. About 4 dozen cookies.

The recipe made about 48 cookies and were very easy to make. The only thing I would change is to let the cookies cool a bit before putting the chocolates on. We had quite a few melted chocolates, and they took a while to firm up. Maybe a half-hour in the fridge for the chocolates would have been helpful. But it’s all aesthetics, because my boys will eat them no matter what, and actually liked it when they were melted. All in all, decent recipe. I might try the chewy version next time.

Snow Day Number Two

Well, we did end up getting dumped on by snow. And we did end up having yet another Snow Day. I don’t know why I thought it might pass over us, or we wouldn’t get the expected amount (well, I DO know why – because sometimes those durn forecasts are wrong, you know). At 11pm, just before I went to bed, I checked out the window to see if snow was falling by the bucketful. Not so.

At 6am I looked outside and it was a foot deep on the roof of our van. Snapped on the television and waited for the school closing list to scroll to our city. Closed. I went to the bathroom, told my husband, and went back to bed.

Kind neighbors we have came down with their plow and got the sidewalk. The plows that go by carry snow from the street and push it right onto the opening of the driveway, so there was still shoveling to be done. Frank went out there with my brother and some other neighbors and dug it out.

Looks like we’ll be getting another 3-5 inches tomorrow as well. White Christmas indeed!!

Humpy Dumpty Had A Fall

After dropping my daughter off for a doctor’s appointment, I decided to take a quick walk around the neighborhood. Despite the cold, I had been sitting most of the day and couldn’t stand the thought of parking myself in the waiting room for a half hour or more.

I have a difficult time walking without a direction or “plan” so I mapped out a nice square in my head that would bring me back to where I needed to be.

It was actually an enjoyable walk. An experienced cold-weather walker, I know that the first few minutes are a little chilly, but once my body warms up, it isn’t so bad. My gait was tentative at first, growing more and more confident as I covered more ground. As I walked past the Catholic church, I gazed up at the building, admiring the bell towers, paying less attention to my walk and more to my surroundings.

That’s when I went down. Not a bannana-slip – feet out from under, onto the rump. But a “whoa, is this happening?!?”  slippery slide, rolling the incident in my head as it happens. I felt silk beneath my feet and a calmness that generally escapes me in any moment where I think I may fall, the potential to break something imminent. My feet slid about, and it registered that I was on my way to the ground. I put a hand out and descended about as gracefully as a chubby momma my age can go do.

My brain quickly registered that I was not broken, but my glasses (which are quite pricey, you know) were hanging precariously from my face. I placed them back on my nose with my mittened hand, surveyed the large rink-like patch of ice I was seated on, and brought myself to my feet. Dust off the pants… brush the gloves, and I was off again. Knocked the cocky right off of me. How dare I walk down a snow-caked sidewalk and take my eyes off the path in front of me? Silly lady.