Holidays


I ripped this recipe for cheese straws out of a Southern Living magazine way back in 1994!

vintage aluminum cups

No, I am not going on a KonMari kick and throwing away recipes! (at least not this one) The reason I saved this recipe to begin with was it brought me joy!! I was probably initially attracted to the vintage aluminum cups!

Cheese straws are a classic Southern snack. They can be fancy and served with wine or casual and served with football! You can buy them at the store, but they are so easy to make! I made cheese straws to give away as gifts this past Christmas.

snowflake package

I was in a hurry and didn’t even fancy up the cellophane baggies! How sad! At least they were cute baggies.

cheese straws

The cheese straws were very fragile. I had to be careful putting them in the bags. They made a great non-sweet snack to give as a gift! Everyone loved them!

Parmesan Cheese Straws

2/3 cup refrigerated pre-shredded Parmesan cheese or use fresh cheese plus 1/4 cup of flour

1/2 butter, softened

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

1/4 cup milk

*Put the cheese and butter in a food processor fitted with the knife blade. Whir it around until blended.

*Add the flour, salt and red pepper. Process about 30 seconds or until the mixture forms a ball. Scrape down the sides from time to time.

*Divide the dough in half. Roll each portion into a 1/8 inch thick rectangle. Cut the dough into 2″ x 1/2″ strips. (You can also shape the dough into 3/4 inch balls; flatten to about 1/8 inch; brush with milk and top with a pecan half.) Place on a baking sheet; (I used parchment for easy cleanup!) brush with milk.

*Bake at 350˚ for 7 minutes for strips (10 minutes for rounds) or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.

**Makes about 5 dozen cheese straws! I put about 25-30 in each baggie.

**When cutting out the straws, you can use a regular knife, pizza wheel, pastry cutter…whatever you want to make it fancy! You can also use a cookie press if you have one.

So, we had a few cheese straws leftover. After Christmas we were all tired of eating Christmas food! I decided experiment with (and disguise) the leftover straws. I crushed up the cheese straws (This was very easy since they were fragile to begin with!) and made Chicken Parmesan!

Chicken Parm

I dipped the chicken in a little melted butter, then the crushed up cheese straws, then into the oven. (again, parchment paper makes clean up a breeze!) Sorry, I don’t remember how long I baked it. I’m thinking 425˚ for about 15-20 minutes depending on the thickness of your chicken. Once baked, add a little marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese! Back in the oven for another 5 minutes-until the cheese melts. YUM! The red pepper that is in the cheese straws was really yummy in the Chicken Parm! It was yummy in the cheese straws, too!

Christmas porch

Well, I finally undressed my Christmas porch! I mean, it’s February and it’s 70˚ outside!!! Who wants to have winter!? Well, I do.

I actually took down the obviously Christmas decorations a couple of weeks ago. I thought I could make the rest work a little further into February. I mean, gosh, I still have a pumpkin on my porch! Why not keep the winter looking decor?!

ice skates

We have had several days when there were snowflakes in the forecast. We just can’t seem to get the cold and the moisture together! I’m sure we’ll get snow in March! Ugh!

flocked Christmas trees

The flocked trees just seemed like a wish that was left ungranted.

A store at the mall was tossing these trees after last Christmas. They had used them as store displays. Did I want free flocked trees? YES, please! You should have seen the mess it left in my car! I was not ready for that mess in my house, so I used them on the porch. They definitely looked wintery.

porch wreath

scrap wood Christmas tree

chalkboard Christmas ribbon

porch pillows

I left the red ribbon on the pillows. It can be for Valentine’s Day, right?

The ice skates, sled and snowflake pillows stayed out, too. I’m still hopeful we will see snow before Spring.

A tea infuser, sometimes called a tea ball, is what you put your dried tea leaves in in order to make the tea. It keeps your tea leaves from floating around in your teacup. Of course, tea bags do the same thing but aren’t nearly as cute.

Since my chorus has hosted a fundraiser Tea for the past six, going on seven, years, I became interested in tea infusers. They come in all shapes and sizes. I had one aluminum infuser that had been my grandmothers. 

One day, while browsing Pinterest, I came across this picture…

6bda719ebcc3f30470a0a8dd9120deca

Oh, my goodness! Tea balls as Christmas ornaments!! I loved the idea and started hunting yard sales and estate sales. One Sunday afternoon I ran into my friend, Donna, at an estate sale. I told her about my idea. She joined me in my hunt, so did my mother-in-law, Brenda. I’m not sure I actually found very many of the tea balls in my collection my self. Every time I saw Donna she was handing me another treasure. Brenda gave me a box full of tea infusers for Christmas one year! 

This Christmas I finally had enough “ornaments” to fill a tree!

tea ball tree

Ok, I think I need a better tree. This was actually a branch off of an old tree I pulled off the curb! 

I thought the tree needed a little color, so I added these fake poinsettias I’ve had for a while. 

tea ball ornaments

You can’t tell from the pictures, but I had the greenery stuffed into some styrofoam in a piece of crockery. It made me happy to see it on the counter. However, I will have to do something different next time. It took up too much valuable space for setting out nut clusters and rolling out cookie dough!

tea ball ornaments 2

I loved my little “tea tree”. It would be cute to add little teapot ornaments to it. Tea bags or other tea items would be fun, too, and add more color in the process. 

Thanks, Donna and Brenda, for my fun Tea Ball Tree!

Welcome to our house!

christmas-wagon

Why do we all love decorating for Christmas?! I suppose nostalgia has something to do with it. There is also the fact that our homes get a face-lift for free, unless you buy new decorations each year.

I pulled this little wagon out of a dumpster this summer! It is perfect filled with fake presents and a cookie jar on our porch coffee table.

christmas-porch-pillows

I was thrilled to find this fun Christmas ribbon on sale at The Paul Michael Company while on vacation this summer.

sled-and-skates

My husband’s childhood sled came to live with us! Oh, if that sled could talk! I’m sure there would be stories it could tell!

north-pole

I made this North Pole as decoration for the seasonal membership recruitment for my chorus. The flower-pot base worked well with the empty wrapping paper tube I got from a gift shop. A little paint and ribbon and voila! I couldn’t stand to just throw it away, so it found a home on my porch.

kitchen-wreath

Look what I made to go in my fancy new kitchen!!! Well, actually, I made three!

wreaths-on-cabinets

If you look closely…

scrap-wreath

you might recognize the fabric from another project! I love “free” stuff!

vintage-bottles-with-berries

top-of-refrigerator

vintage-kitchen-vignette

christmas-shelf

I love my new kitchen!

I enjoy the old things we have, too!

plaid-china

…like plaid Christmas plates

vintage-christmas-decorations

and vintage decorations!

joy-lamp

joy

joy-with-light

I picked up these “JOY” ornaments at last year’s after-Christmas-sale. I wish they had had all the right letters in the plaid. Oh, well. I like the was the light shines behind them at night.

german-crate

This great German crate (a hand-me-down from my in-laws) got relocated this year. Skeeter seems to approve.

slipcovered-couch

The gray and red from the kitchen came into the den. I picked up the snowflake pillows on sale last year. I guess that is where I got to thinking about the gray for the kitchen. The sweater pillows came from Goodwill. I couldn’t commit to cutting the pillows just yet. So, these are held together with safety pins.

gray-sweater-pillow

black-red-and-gray-sweater-pillow

red-and-white-sweater-pillow

I truly hope you all can find TRUE JOY this season-which is only found in Christ the LORD!

nativity

“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good news of great joy, that will be to all people.” Luke 2:10

Well, hello there! Long time no see! Last fall I tried to jump back in to blogging. I was finally getting back in the swing of things. I had seven posts in three months! That was news! Then, as I was ready to post about some delicious Christmas cookies, I ran out of storage on my free WordPress account.  At the time, I just was not ready to commit to paying money for my blog. Today I bit the bullet and signed up for the premium plan. I’m sure there will be new things to learn, but I now have extra storage for my blog. Hooray!!!

You’ll have to excuse my Christmas decorations. Maybe you’ll have a Christmas in July party?! Actually, these cookies are so yummy, you will want to keep them in the freezer year round.

Cranberry Walnut Swirl Cookies

Now that I’m seeing my pictures again, I’m excited. I love Christmas decorations~and Christmas cookies!

chopped cranberries

Can you even find cranberries this time of year?

chopped walnuts

I used my food processor to chop up the cranberries and walnuts.

orange zest

Do NOT leave out the orange zest! It makes the recipe!

butter and sugar

marked parchment paper

I got a little technical with my parchment paper. I did use edible markers! (If you want to mark up your parchment paper, you can also just turn it over if you use regular pens.) The recipe says to roll the dough into a 10 inch square. When adding the filling, you are to leave a 1/2 inch border on two sides. I left a little too much.

cranberry mixture

The filling smells so good! It must be the orange zest.

rolled cookies

pretty swirled cookies

swirled cookies

swirled cookie

I do feel I should warn you about these cookies. You will need to plan your baking time. Chilling and freezing time are a factor.

Cranberry Walnut Swirl Cookies

  • ½ cup butter (1 stick), softened
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon sour cream
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup finely chopped fresh cranberries, packed full
  • ⅔ cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon grated orange rind

Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the sour cream, egg and vanilla, combining well between each addition.

Gradually add the flour mixture and beat until well combined. (Do not overbeat)

Cover the cookie dough and chill for one hour.

Combine cranberries, walnuts and orange rind.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface or parchment paper and roll into a 10-inch square. (About ¼ inch thick.)

Sprinkle with the cranberry mixture, leaving a ½-inch border on 2 opposite sides.

Roll up dough, jelly roll fashion, beginning at a bordered side. Cover and freeze 6 hours or up to 1 month. (Do not skip the freezing part! The cookies are too soft to cut otherwise!)

Cut roll into ¼-inch thick slices. Place slices on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake on top oven rack at 375˚F for 14 to 15 minutes or until lightly golden browned at the edges.

Cool completely on wire racks.

 

Christmas cookies

Merry Christmas!  I mean…Happy, uh, School’s Out!? I’m glad to actually have a new post on my blog. Hopefully there will be more soon!

When I was a kid, I would spend HOURS outside–riding my bike, building a clubhouse, just wandering around the yard. I still enjoy my outdoor wanderings. It gives me a minute or two to “unplug” from the world. I guess that is why I enjoy setting Christmas decorations out our porch so much.

Of course I made my favorite Christmas Wreaths again this year. They are a little different each year! The porch is just a little different each year, too. See last year’s here.

Christmas Berries

Christmas Wreath

One new thing I used this year was absolutely free!

When we got our tree and free greenery this year, I noticed several slices of tree around the greenery bin. You know, they always make a fresh cut for you when you get your tree? Those kind of slices. So, I grabbed them and shoved them in one of my greenery bags.

Christmas peace and hope

I simply wrote on the slices with a Sharpie! Of course you can get all fancy and use a wood-burning tool if you like. (Warning: I did wear gloves to keep the sap from getting all over my hands.) I was happy with them the easy way.

Christmas Peace and Pinecones

Christmas Love

Christmas Meaning

Luke 2

Christmas Joy 2

Christmas Joy

Another easy project was these pillows.

Christmas Pillows 2

I just used my regular porch pillows and wrapped Christmas fabric around them. I was not ready to commit to actually cutting my precious Christmas fabric! The pillow in the middle is a sweater from Goodwill that I sewed up rather quickly. I didn’t even close the bottom-shhh. The red ties are rescued from some old kitchen chair cushions. Save! Save!

Christmas Pillows

A few vintage items and things were starting to look pretty good!

Christmas Vintage 2

Christmas vintage

A little more…then use the broom and all done!

Christmas Pinecones

Christmas Window

Christmas Ice Skates

All ready for the coffee drinkers.

Christmas Coffee Table

Christmas Coffee

If you have followed this blog for a while, you may have discovered a pattern. I tend to have good ideas that take a while to get accomplished! Well, this post is one of those I’ve-been-planning-to-do-it posts.

Meet Claudia…

Claudia

Claudia and I have been friends for several years. We sang together in Top of the Rock Chorus. Our kids are close in age, so we always had plenty of chatting material.

I love just listening to Claudia speak. Claudia is from Germany. I don’t know if it is a German thing or a Claudia thing, but she seems to use words so eloquently. There are not a lot of “you knows” or “ums” in Claudia’s conversation. It’s not that she over-uses big words or anything like that. She just chooses much more descriptive words. I’m sure I’m not explaining this well–not like Claudia would!

For years Claudia and I have talked about getting together for her to teach me how to make some German cookies. Well, life got busy, as it always does, and we never got together–until now!

We finally got together last weekend! Claudia taught me how to make Moklaplätzchen and Weihnachtsschikoli.

We started with the Weihnachtsschokoli since it needed some time in the fridge.

Weihnachtsschokoli

This is a recipe Claudia found when she was a teenager and has been making it since then!

Claudia asked that I bring a pound of butter for our cookie baking. Oh! You know it is going to be something yummy when you need a pound of butter!

As you can see above, all the measurements are in metric proportions. Many cooking show hosts suggest measuring your ingredients by weight. Most recipes, however, only give you the standard measurement. Luckily, Claudia weighed the ingredients then figured out the approximate measurement for me!

Weihnachtsschokoli

made 46 cookies

250 grams unsalted butter, softened (2 sticks + 2 Tablespoons)

100 grams powdered sugar (a scant cup)

1 teaspoon vanilla sugar or 1 German packet of vanilla sugar [approx. 1 Tablespoon]

250 grams cornstarch (2 cups loose)

25 grams flour (1/4 cup)

30 grams dark cocoa powder (1/2 cup)

1 teaspoon cardamom

1 teaspoon cinnamon

I don’t know that I had ever had cardamom before having it in these cookies. I suppose a little goes a long way. I could definitely taste it in the cookies. They were amazing!

•Cream the softened butter

•Blend the rest of the ingredients together. Add to the butter. The mixture will be very dry and crumbly!

•Add 50 grams more of flour (1/2 cup). I know! It seems crazy! It is so dry and you want me to add MORE flour? Yes.

•Use a dough hook or knead by hand until the dough comes together. Claudia turned the dough out on a kitchen towel. She used the towel to smash the dough together.

ingredients on a towel

working the ingredients

If I had not seen it with my own eyes, I don’t think I would have believed the ingredients would actually come together to form a dough!

work dough into a ball

•Roll the dough into logs that are approximately 1 1/4 inch in diameter. Seems like Claudia had three logs.

roll dough into logs

•Place the logs on a plate. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour. This will give the butter plenty of time to chill.

At this point, Claudia and I switched to the other cookie recipe. Makes sense-huh? No need to sit around watching the first batch chill in the refrigerator! To avoid confusion, I will continue with the Weihnachtsschokoli recipe.

•Remove the dough logs from the refrigerator. Slice into 3/4 inch slices.

half-inch slices

slice and bake cookies

•Place a whole hazelnut on top of each slice.

top with hazelnut

•Work the dough around each hazelnut.

working in hazelnuts

surround hazelnut with dough

Claudia said that Trader Joe’s has the best price on hazelnuts. If only Trader Joe’s would put a store in central Arkansas!!!

Trader Joe's hazelnuts

•Once you have all your dough and hazelnuts rolled up, bake at 375˚ for 20 minutes. Cool completely–Claudia recommended cooling on a paper sack or cardboard box.

all rolled up

•While you are waiting for the cookies to cool, melt some chocolate bark–about 4 squares–in the microwave according to the package directions.

chopping almond bark

•Once cooled, use a pastry brush or BBQ brush to paint the chocolate on top of the cookie. I asked Claudia if she had ever tried dipping the tops in the chocolate bowl. The cookies are quite fragile. Remember how crumbly the dough was? Painting was the way to go!

painting with chocolate

cool on a paper sack

•Let the chocolate cool–if you can stand it!

Click here for cookie pronunciation.

Click here for cookie pronunciation.

Next up…Mokkaplätzchen! You can tell by the paper that this is a well-loved recipe by Claudia’s family.

Mokkaplätzchen

 

Mokkaplätzchen

made 56 cookies

120 grams (1 cup) unsalted hazelnuts-measured whole then ground finely. You can roast the hazelnuts for a bit for more flavor. [1 1/2 cups ground]

cup of hazelnuts

2 sticks + 2 Tablespoons  softened, unsalted butter

180 grams (1 heaped cup) sugar

2 eggs

220 grams flour (approx. 2 1/4 cups)

2 Tablespoons instant coffee dissolved in approximately 1/2 Tablespoon hot water

measuring ingredients

•Beat the butter

•Blend in sugar

•Add eggs one at a time-blending after each addition

•Add flour and dissolved coffee–blend

•Add the ground nuts. Mix well.

•Scoop onto a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.  Bake in a preheated oven for 8-10 minutes. The recipe says 200˚C. That translates to 392˚F.

scoops of cookie dough

We decided after the first batch got a little dark around the edges that parchment might help.

oops! a little burned

•Cool the cookies completely. Top with Coffee Icing

Coffee Icing

2 Tablespoons instant coffee dissolved in approximately 1/2 Tablespoon hot water

1 cup powdered sugar

•Mix together. Should look like tempered chocolate.

cookie drizzle

•Paint the icing on the cookies using a pastry brush.

painting cookies

•Immediately top with a Mocha Bean

cookie with mocha bean

mocha beans

or dark chocolate chips.

substitute with chocolate chips

Click here for pronunciation

Click here for pronunciation

Thank you, Claudia! I had a fabulous time catching up on chit-chat and baking cookies with you! I’m so glad it finally happened!

by the steps

Next Page »