Archive | December 2013

Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies

Here’s another recipe I decided to try out when making Christmas gifts this year:  My dad has always liked chocolate covered cherries, or cherry cordials, so I thought this cookie might be to his liking.

There are several steps to these cookies, but none are difficult or terribly time consuming.  The cookie dough is made first:  2013_1225December20130012  Then you make the “frosting”, and I used these chocolate pieces and sweetened condensed milk (along with the juice from the cherries): 2013_1225December20130009  This is what the fudgy frosting looks like:  2013_1225December20130016  And oh my is it ever good!  (I may have sneaked a taste while I was “frosting” the cookies . . . )  Next you assemble the cookies (roll dough into ball, press down with thumb, making indentation for cherry, place cherry on cookie, cover with “frosting” and bake):  2013_1225December20130017  After baking, mine looked like this:  2013_1225December20130019  Now, I have to admit that I did not sample the finished cookies.  I did allow my oldest son to sample one and he said that of 5 stars he’d give them more than 5 if he could 😀  I haven’t heard if the gift recipients loved (or even liked) the cookies, but I’m not going to ask.  What are they supposed to say if cornered like that?  I do know that my oldest son loved them and I loved the “frosting”, so that’s enough for me to tell you to go ahead and try them.


Caramel Oatmeal Cookies

I like to make goodies to give as Christmas gifts, don’t you?  They’re made, not bought (except for the ingredients, of course), so they’re filled with love and they cost less.  Win/win!  This year I chose to go with new recipes and hope they turned out well.  (Okay, so I do that most years.  I have trouble sticking with the same old thing all of the time, in case you hadn’t noticed 😉 )

I like caramel, and my mother likes caramel, and I’ve been searching for a good oatmeal cookie recipe, so when I saw this one I thought, why not?  Let’s try it!

I apologize for failing to snap a picture of the finished product (too involved in packaging up cookies to give away, I suppose) but I did remember to snap one of the caramel bits, in case you’re not sure what you’re looking for:  2013_1225December20130022  I didn’t find these at my local grocery store, and my husband went to two other stores before finding them.  I’m glad he did find them.  The caramel goes well with the oatmeal and the cookies are nice and chewy, even if mine didn’t look quite as pretty as the ones in the picture with the recipe.  I enjoyed the few I had left after packaging a dozen each for various family members, and I think I may make some for here at home after all the Christmas goodies have been gone for awhile 🙂

Black Bean, Couscous, and Pepper Salad

From the book Fit and Fast Meals in Minutes by Linda Gassenheimer, which I received for my birthday, I chose to try this recipe first:

I forgot about photos until after the salad was done, but I can tell you that (1) I used an entire can of black beans because I knew I’d end up throwing the rest away if I didn’t use them right then, (2) I had some of a package of chopped ham leftover from making ham, cheese, and onion omelettes one morning and I used what was left of that, which was a little more than called for, and (3) I omitted the salt, pepper, and cilantro.  I also chose not to serve the salad on lettuce leaves, which you can see in the previous post, where the full plate is shown.

Here is what my salad looked like and the dressing I chose to use for the “olive oil and vinegar dressing”:  2013_1227December20130007  This could easily be a light meal, and that was my original plan.  This was going to be lunch one day, but I ended up combining lunch and dinner into one late afternoon meal.  My husband liked this well enough to eat leftovers for a snack that evening and have more with his lunch the next day.  It’s a keeper!

Burrito Bake

For my birthday, I received two cookbooks.  One was “Our Daily Bread” from Saint Matthew Catholic Church in Ravenswood, West Virginia, and the first recipe I chose to try was the following:


1 lb. ground chuck

1 (15 oz.) can refried beans

1 pkg. enchilada or taco seasoning

1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce

8 flour burrito shells/tortillas

1 can medium or hot enchilada sauce

(8 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese

2 green onions, diced (optional)

1 small can diced black olives (optional)

Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Brown ground beef, drain grease.  Combine beef, taco/enchilada seasoning and tomato sauce.  Blend in refried beans.  Simmer 5-10 minutes.  In a 9×13 pan, place a flour burrito shell, add 1/4 cup of meat mixture and roll up, continuing the process until all 8 shells are filled and arranged in the pan.  Pour enchilada sauce evenly over the burritos and sprinkle the olives and cheese on top.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25-30 minutes.  Sprinkle chopped green onion on top before serving.  Serve with tortilla chips, mexi-corn and/or a side salad.  Serves 3-4.  (Pam Moore)

My ingredients, as usual, don’t exactly match what was called for:  2013_1227December20130010  I used ground round instead of ground chuck, soft taco size instead of burrito size tortillas, and mild enchilada sauce.  If you’ve read my previous posts, you’re probably aware that my hubby doesn’t handle heat well.  I also have 4 children for whom mild is a better choice if I want them to taste the meal.

My oldest son loves black olives, but my other children won’t touch olives of any kind, so I put all the olives on half of the burritos:  2013_1227December20130012  Well, sort of “half”.  I actually ended up with 7 burritos instead of 8.  I tend to overstuff.   I chose to serve corn and a black bean, couscous and red pepper salad (recipe to follow in next post) for the sides:  2013_1227December20130015  Yes, I had a serving sans olives.  I knew my husband would want olives on any leftovers he ate, so I opted to have none.  The burrito bake is a simple, hearty meal and we’ll most likely have it again one day.  If you want, you can dress it up with sour cream, guacamole, diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, whatever you like!

Ravioli with Peas & Brown Butter Sauce

When you often cook late and you see a recipe that says “15 minutes”, well, you pretty much have to try it, don’t you?

If you’ve read enough of my previous posts, you know that any recipe calling for walnuts is always prepared with pecans instead at my house:  2013_1120November20130129  Other than that change, I followed the recipe and came up with this:  2013_1120November20130132  It was good.  Not “awesome, I must serve this for company sometime” good, but “quick and easy and palate pleasing enough for a busy weeknight dinner” good 🙂

Product Review: Betty Crocker’s Banana Nut Muffin Mix

Kroger offers digital coupons to load onto your shopper’s card, and they have been offering a “Free Friday Download”, which means that on Friday, and only on Friday, you can add a coupon to receive a product free.  One week the coupon was for a free bag of muffin mix.  I thought, why not?   When I opened the bag to prepare the muffins I was hit with an incredibly strong banana scent (think banana flavored candy).  I prepared them according to package directions:  2013_1120November20130137  They weren’t bad, but they didn’t rival homemade either.  For a price of “free” and a busy weekday morning, they sufficed.  But I must admit that the muffins that weren’t eaten at breakfast that morning sat around untouched until they had to be thrown out.

Veg Jambalaya

Whether you never eat meat, like to do “Meatless Mondays”, or simply like to have a meatless meal every now and then (for health or $ reasons, or both) – I am the latter – here’s a recipe to try:

Here are the ingredients I used:  2013_1123November20130005  You see I was fortunate enough to still have some of my mom’s home canned tomatoes on hand 🙂  There is one thing I’ve started to do differently with dishes that call for rice: cook it separately.  So those 2 cups of water in the ingredient list were placed in a pan with the rice and that was set to cooking while I combined the rest of the ingredients in the skillet.  I have had too many experiences of cooking rice in with other ingredients where the rice did not cook enough, so cooking it separately then stirring it in at the end seems the best way to go.  It takes an extra pan, but we’re always happy with the results: 2013_1123November20130009  We doused ours with Frank’s hot sauce, and though my husband would have preferred some chicken or shrimp added to the dish, he did agree that it was very good.