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

I made ornaments for my girls again this year. They even got them hung on the tree before the tree crashed! Yes, we did have a crash. There was really no reason for it either. Sadly, one ornament was broken, but only one!  Tiny ornaments are the BEST!

Tiny ornaments with tiny red jingle bells and tiny silver stars are even BETTER!

Update: A friend of mine sent me some questions about making this ornament. When I posted, I didn’t really have time to go into detail. I will now though!

The tiny bottles and stars came from the Argenta Bead Company in North Little Rock, AR. I have also seen similar items at Michael’s and Hobby Lobby. I had the little bells leftover from a project years ago. Sorry, I couldn’t tell you where I got them–most likely a craft store.

I used red scrapbook paper on the inside. You could, however, print your own personal message. I did have to roll up the tiny piece of paper pretty tightly.

You could even just fill the jar half-way with glitter! You are only limited by your imagination. Happy crafting!

Are you cooking for a crowd this holiday season?

These Pumpkin Pie Bars will surely be helpful. Rather than baking two or three pumpkin pies, just whip up a pan of Pumpkin Pie Bars! You will get about 24 servings from this recipe. The crust is so yummy you might want to account for 2 servings per person though!

Pumpkin Pie squares

First, mix up the crust–flour, oats, brown sugar pecans and butter–I told you the crust was yummy!

Press into a 10×15 jelly roll pan.

pie crust

Bake for 15 minutes at 350˚.

While the crust is in the oven, mix up the filling–pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, spices and eggs.

pumpkin and spice

Pour over baked crust and bake an additional 30-35 minutes.

Pumpkin pie filling

Pumpkin Pie for a crowd! Whipped Cream is optional but let’s get real…you want it!

Pumpkin Pie squares

 

Pumpkin Pie Bars

Crust:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup oats (quick or old-fashioned)

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup chopped pecans

2/3 cup melted butter

Filling:

4 eggs

2 cans (15 ounce each) pumpkin

2 cans (14 ounce each) sweetened condensed milk

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1 tsp salt

*Preheat oven to 350˚F

*Combine crust ingredients. I mixed the dry ingredients together first, then added the butter.

*Press into a 10×15 jelly roll pan.

*Bake for 15 minutes.

*Meanwhile, whisk the filling ingredients together. Be sure your bowl is big enough. I used a 2 qt. bowl and it barely fit!

*Bake 30-35 minutes–until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle. Mine took 35 minutes.

*Cool at room temperature. Cut into squares. Top with whipped topping and, if you are feeling fancy, a pecan half!

 

Is it just my imagination or have apple dishes taken a back seat to pumpkin spiced EVERYTHING over the past few years?! I have always loved pumpkin treats! I have shared that love here many times. I have made pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin waffles, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin pies, pumpkin crisp, and pumpkin fudge. I have decorated with pumpkins. I have dressed my children as pumpkins. I’ve even supported pumpkins for a cause!

So, yes, I guess it is safe to say the apple has taken a back seat to the pumpkin. Let’s not forget this fabulous apple cake recipe or these applesauce cookies with frosting that is to die for! We have also had apples in savory dishes and “craft” projects.

Last fall, I purchased this lovely cookbook. (Ha! It didn’t come with Pork Chop Tuesday on it.)

Fall Baking

The pictures were all so lovely, and the recipes all looked so yummy!

The first one I tried was Cream Cheese Oat Bars. They were delicious! I didn’t think the name was quite right though, so I renamed them Apple Butter Bars. It was nice to have a non-pumpkin fall treat.

Apple Butter Bars

I had every intention to blog about these bars last fall. The above photo is from a couple of weeks ago. I was not happy with the ones I took last year. I tried to be all fancy–like I was a food stylist or something.

acorn plate

hay bales and denim

The lighting wasn’t right. My “props” weren’t quite right. Blah, blah blah!

So, my pictures sat there in my to-do file for a year.

This year I had plans to make the photos better, complete with step-by-step photos.

pantry ingredients

chopped cashews

I got as far as the chopped cashews and forgot to take any more photos. I started to scrap the whole post.

The recipe is just too yummy to not share. I hope you will try it along with some of the others listed at the top of this post.

Apple Butter Bars

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups quick-cooking oats

2 cups chopped salted cashews

1 cup sugar

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 cup butter, melted

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 T lemon juice

2 tsp vanilla

2 cups apple butter

•Preheat over to 350˚. Spray a 9×13 inch pan with cooking spray and set aside.

•Stir together flour, oats, cashews, sugar and baking soda. You’ll want to use a pretty big bowl.

•Add melted butter and stir well.

•Set aside 1 1/2 cups of the mixture to used as the topping.

•Press the rest of the mixture into the prepared pan.

•Bake 15 minutes. Cool completely.

•Beat cream cheese and sugar in a medium bowl at medium speed until creamy.

•Add eggs one at a time . Beating well after each one.

•Add the lemon juice and vanilla. Beat to combine.

•Spread apple butter over the cooled crust. Spread the cream cheese mixture over the apple butter. Sprinkle the reserved oat mixture on top.

•Bake until cream cheese layer is set–35-40 minutes. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

Earlier this month, we had the opportunity to visit our college girl at school on homecoming weekend.

I couldn’t arrive empty-handed!

homecoming basket

Ouachita Baptist University holds a special place in our hearts. My husband and I met there! Now our oldest is a Ouachita Tiger!

Treats for OBU Homecoming HAD to  have a tiger theme!

Tiger Tails were easy to make and yummy to eat!

First, thread three marshmallows onto a bamboo skewer.

marshmallows on a stick

Melt orange candy melts.

Dip the marshmallows into the melted candy. I actually had to spread the melted candy on my marshmallows. Just be sure you get a little of the candy on the bamboo skewer and the under-side of the bottom marshmallow. If you don’t, the marshmallows will slide down the skewer.

orange candy melts

While candy coating is still wet, sprinkle with orange sugar for extra fanciness.

sprinkled with sugar

Stick the coated marshmallows in Styrofoam to dry.

Styrofoam cooling rack

If you ever let your children use your sprinkles, you can expect cross contamination of colors.

orange and blue

I had to pick out all the blue sprinkles. I think this was pay-back for the time I had them separate sprinkles for me.

blue sprinkles

Melt some chocolate chips in a zip top bag. Once melted, clip the corner of the bag. Drizzle the chocolate back and forth over the orange “tails”. Now they really look like tiger tails! Just don’t twirl the skewer. I tried it. The stripes looked like a spiral not a tiger. Carefree and unstructured is the way to go.

tiger tail treats

Of course I had to use cellophane wrappers to make them look more professional.

I thought this would be a good opportunity to practice my decorating skills a little, too.

college gift basket

I packed up the treats in an old purple Easter basket, handle removed, with yellow shredded copy paper. I needed the paper shreds to cover the foam in the bottom of the basket necessary for the tiger tails to stand.

homecoming basket

I happened to have a big cellophane bag that could house the basket and a big purple bow! Perfect!

The tiger tails were a hit! She even shared with the roommate and suite mates!

I finally had a cookie exchange!!!

I have wanted to go to one or have one for a long time now. Read this.

Since this summer and back-to-school was so carefree–haahahahahahaha!–I decided this was the year to have a cookie exchange.

Had I lost my mind? Possibly.

I invited all the ladies from church because I knew they would love me even if there was dust on my end-tables.

Not everyone could come, but we had a pretty good turn-out. Some of them had never been to a cookie exchange either!

cookie friends

I had fun getting ready for the party.

teacher vest

I even wore my “teacher” vest I made when I was an elementary school teacher in the ’90s.

vintage school books

Old school books and a pencil “vase”

bake

Don’t you love these vintage flip cards?! More below.

back to school napkins

I found these adorable notebook paper napkins in the $1 bin at Target several years ago with the intent of having a back-to-school cookie exchange! Can you believe it?!

send

I provided some recycled Sister Shubert aluminum pans for the ladies to haul their cookies home.

gab

Gab–we did LOTS of this!

pray

chalkboard

We filled up this giant chalkboard with our kids’ names and schools. Some shared verses of encouragement. At the end of the night we spent time praying for the students as they were starting school.

chalk

For some reason my colored chalk only showed up white. I guess it was the cheap kind.

I asked the ladies to bring an appetizer as well as cookies.

I made these spinach balls. It was a recipe from  library cookbook. Sorry, I don’t remember the name of the book. Really, I’m not sorry. These looked cute but didn’t taste all that good. And the cute part was MY idea.  The spinach balls had Stove Top stuffing in them. Guess they just tasted a little too processed.  I thought the pretzels were a cute idea and made the spinach balls finger-friendly. As time went on, however, the pretzels got soggy. Points for cuteness. Negative points for flavor and sogginess. I’m not making THAT recipe again!

spinach balls

spinach dip

Thank goodness Nicole brought her yummy Spinach Dip!

guacamole

Jami made yummy guacamole. She brought it in a Tupperware bowl, so she tried to fancy it up with the napkins. We all laughed pretty hard at her!

sliders

Tammy brought these amazing ham and cheese sliders. I’ve made these sliders before but not like Tammy’s. She put soy sauce and brown sugar on the top. OH MY WORD! So yummy!

Now for the cookies…

peanut butter cookies

oatmeal cookies

salted caramel shortbread cookies

chocolate chip

variety of cookies

Someone already had labels on these cookies.

white chocolate chip oatmeal

flu fighter cookies

The little cookie name plates were left-over materials from a project similar to this one.

Some of the cookies were store-bought, which was just fine. All of the cookies were delicious!

I’ll have to check back with the ladies about the recipes. I’ll be sharing the recipe for my cookies, the Flu Fighter Cookies, soon.

What a fun time! We may have to do it again sometime.

 

 

Life is busy.

This summer was VERY busy–went to so many great places, we ate so much yummy food and saw so many people we love.

vineyard

french bicycle

gingerbread houses

Eiffel Tower

Switzerland

cousin camp

There were also things that I didn’t do this summer–like write any blog posts! Gasp!

My poor little Pork Chop Tuesday has limped along thanks to a couple of popular pins on Pinterest.

Nutcracker plaid quilt

I have had the cloud of “gotta blog” hanging over me since May. black cloud

Another one of the things I didn’t do this summer was attend the Arkansas Women Bloggers blog conference. As I read through everyone’s conference recaps and chased them on Twitter and Periscope I wished that I could have gone. Money was a little different this summer. Big vacation+First child off to college+Purchase of an additional vehicle…I decided adding a conference was not the thing to do. I came across one of my fellow blogger’s post about the conference. She spoke about keeping the most important thing the most important thing. What an inspiration! Here I was all worried about the fact that I had not paid my blog any attention all summer and sad that I didn’t go to the blog conference. All along one of the biggest take-aways from the conference was what I was living! I spent wonderful, quality time with family this summer–keeping the most important thing the most important thing!

I’m trying to pick up blogging again. Boy it is rough. I’ve forgotten how to edit photos. I’m rusty at the keyboard. I am too embarrassed to tell you how long it has taken me to put this post together.

So, there you have it, summer in a nutshell. Thanks for hanging in there with me. I’ll be relearning Photoshop and WordPress. I only have 1762 more pictures from our Europe trip to edit!