Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas Gift Bags

I made Christmas Gift Bags for Levi's family and extended family this year.  It was a huge project but, as always, a lot of fun.  Here's what I made:

55 jars of Homemade Hot Fudge
over 100 Caramel and Chocolate covered Pretzels
Cranberry Orange Cookies

I made extra Hot Fudge for friends and Levi's co-workers.  I've posted my Mom's famous Hot Fudge recipe at the end of this post.  It's amazing.
I made 16 gift bags in total.

Mom’s Own Hot Fudge Sauce


1 can evaporated milk (13 oz)
1 cup sugar
1 package semisweet chocolate chips (12 oz) or 2 CUPS
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons butter


1. Heat evaporated milk and sugar over medium heat until mixture almost starts to boil, stirring from
time to time. (If it boils over it will be a big mess!)
2. Add chocolate chips and stir constantly until boiling. Cook until the chocolate is smooth and thicker.
3. Take off the heat and add vanilla, almond extract and butter. Stir everything smooth.
4. Pour into jars and let cool with lids off. Cover tightly and refrigerate.




Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas Party

This year I had a small Christmas Party with some friends.  I served Cranberry Orange bread, Sugar cookies, my Mom's famous Christmas Pudding, Hot Fudge Sundae's, and fruit.  
Here's the Cranberry Orange bread.  It was pretty easy to make, but I wasn't crazy about it.  I got the recipe from America's Test Kitchen: The Baking Edition.

I didn't make these.  Being 8 1/2 months pregnant, I was trying to lighten up my load.  I got these cute cookies at Kneaders.  Sadly, they looked better than they tasted.

Here's my Mom's Christmas Pudding!  It was my first time making it, and I was delighted with the turnout.  This is a Molasses cake with Craisins.  It's served with a creamy butter sauce.  It's a  rich dessert, but SO GOOD!  The recipe is at the end of this post.

Homemade Hot Fudge Sauce
And that's away.

Mom’s Own Christmas Pudding

1 ½ cup boiling water
1 ½ cup chopped craisins
¾ cup molasses
2 eggs
3 tablespoons butter
2 ¼ cup flour
¾ cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoon salt

Creamy Sauce or Hard Sauce (below)

Pour boiling water on craisins; stir in butter and let stand for 5 minutes.
Mix flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a bowl.
Stir cranberry mixture, molasses and eggs into flour mixture.
Pour into well-greased 8-cup mold. Cover tightly with a lid.
Place the mold into a large pot; pour boiling water into the pot until it is
half way up the mold. Cover the pot.
 Keep water boiling over low heat until a wooden pick inserted into the
center of the pudding comes out clean, about 2 hours.

Remove the mold from the pot and let stand 5 minutes; unmold. Serve warm
with Creamy Sauce or Hard Sauce.

Creamy Sauce:

Beat 1 ½ cups of powdered sugar and 1 ½ cups of softened butter in a medium
saucepan until smooth and creamy. Stir in 1 ½ cup whipping cream. Heat to
boiling, stirring occasionally. Note: This can boil over so watch it!

Hard Sauce:

Beat 1 ½ cup softened butter in a medium mixing bowl on high speed until
smooth, about 5 minutes. Gradually beat in 3 cups of powdered sugar and 2
teaspoons of vanilla. Refrigerate 1 hour.



Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The impossible cookies made possible!

I have a favorite cookie that I have never been able to successfully make.  The recipe comes from a dear friend, Maggie.  She is quite possibly the most loved woman in South Dakota.  While I was home for Thanksgiving, I had a special cooking lesson with her.  She did all the work while I carefully observed every step, and took detailed notes.  Thanks to her great lesson, I think I've finally got it down!  The cookie is a Cranberry Orange chew.  They are perfect for the holidays.  I plan to make them for my holiday gift baskets this year.  They really are to die for!

Butter, sugar, and orange peel creamed together.
This is how the dough should look after mixing, before you add the Craisins. 
Here is the fabulous cookie maker, Maggie!


Cranberry Orange Chews


Grated orange peel from one orange
3 cubes of butter
2 cups of sugar
2 tsp of vanilla
1/4 tsp of salt
1 tsp of baking powder
3 1/4 cups of flour
1 1/2 cups of dried cranberries or craisins (Maggie likes to use the orange flavored ones)
1 1/2 cups of flaked coconut


Finely grate one orange.  Maggie says to get the orangest orange that you can find.  Next, cream together butter and sugar in a standing mixer.  Beat for about 2 minutes, but not too fast!  Add the orange peel and vanilla.  Next mix in salt and baking powder.  Then add the flour.  Mix very slowly for about 5 minutes, until it looks like pie crust.  Add the dried cranberries and coconut while slowly mixing.

Place the rack on the upper middle setting, and preheat the oven to 350.  Pack the cookie dough into a 1 1/2 inch cookie scoop.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.  Makes 47 cookies.  Eat when almost cooled, if you can resist!

Maggie gave me a very important tip to making these cookies's don't rush the process!  She says to take your time, and have fun.  



Saturday, December 4, 2010

Thanksgiving Dinner

I come from a family of 6 women who love to cook!  Thanksgiving is always a big deal to us.  We each had different assignments in the kitchen.  Here's what we made...

We started with making the best thing first... PIES!  We made a total of 7 pies... apple, mixed berry, cherry, pecan, blackberry, and two pumpkin.



Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ward Prayer

I live in a bubble.  I love this bubble.  Sometimes I forget that not everyone lives in that bubble with me.  I apologize.  Before I tell you all what I made for Ward Prayer, I will explain just what Ward Prayer is.

Ward Prayer is a social gathering every Sunday night (ours is at 9 pm) for our Singles Ward that my husband is a Bishopric member of.  They have a spiritual thought, and then say a prayer as a ward...hence the name, Ward Prayer.  We usually have about 80 to 100 people every Sunday night, and  I make treats for every Ward Prayer.

Ok now we can get on with it.  Here's what I made last Sunday...

Almond Poppy Seed Muffins
I love these.  I got the recipe from Betty Crocker.

Abby's chocolate chip cookies
This is not your ordinary chocolate chip cookie.  They have white chocolate chips, semi sweet, and milk chocolate chips.  There is also sweetened condensed milk in them!  You can't go wrong with that!  I got this recipe from my water aerobics teacher, Jolene.  I have no idea who Abby is, but i'm grateful for her cookies!  The recipe (posted at the bottom) makes about 85. They vanished quickly!

Lil' Smokies
Sorry, these never make a cute picture, but they taste awesome.  I searched everywhere for a decent sauce to cook these in.  You'll never guess what I came up with!  I mixed together Sweet Baby Rays BBQ sauce, and Grape Jelly. Yep, Grape Jelly.  I warmed the Lil' Smokies in two crock pots for a few hours first.  Then I poured over the sauce, and let it cook for another few hours.  It was REALLY good!  My husband, who doesn't like Lil Smokies, even loved them!  There were no leftovers!

Here's a couple more food items that I made for Ward Prayer a few weeks ago... 

Red Velvet cookies, Swedish Rosettes (I made these with my in-laws), and a Raspberry Chipotle Sauce poured over cream cheese, served with crackers.

 Lots of cooking...lots of fun!  Here's the recipe for those cookies.

Abby's Chocolate Chip Cookies

1lb butter-room temp

2 cups brown sugar

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 eggs-room temp
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
6 cups flour
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 cup malted milk powder (carnation)

Coconut, milk chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, semisweet chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Cream butter for 2 minutes, add sugars one at a time and cream for 5

minutes. Add eggs one at a time, then vanilla. Add sweetened milk. Combine

all the dry ingredients then add to mixer, combine just until mixed. Add the
coconut and chips in the proportions you prefer. One ungreased cookie sheet,
place big scoops about the size of an ice cream scoop. Bake at 350 for only
12 minutes, you still want them soft in the middles. Enjoy!!

I only used 1 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, but I think I will cut it out altogether next time I make them.  I also didn't add the coconut, because I didn't have any.  



Wednesday, November 10, 2010

FHE Dinner

Once a month Levi and I host a Family Home Evening dinner for about 15 to 20 people at our small apartment.  Last month's FHE dinner was a bit of a disaster because I chose to make things that were too complicated.  This month I learned from my mistakes.  Although it still took me a full day of preparation, I chose easier things to make, and I made enough food!  I also used paper products, which saved me three days of dishes! 

I made two types of Chili's.  A regular Ground Beef Chili (I got the recipe from and a White Chicken Chili (recipe posted below).  I also made corn muffins and green salad with homemade Poppy Seed Dressing.  For dessert, I made Scotcheroos and Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches.  

Everything went well.  We had a great turnout, and everyone liked the food!  If you would like any of these recipes, don't hesitate to ask!  Here's the recipe for the White Chicken Chili.  It comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, The Domestic Art Vol. II.  It's really good!

White Chicken Chili:

6 (15 1/2 oz.) cans Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
3 (5 oz.) cans chicken, drained
6 c. chicken broth
3 c. shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2 (4 oz.) cans diced green chilies 
12 oz. ctn. sour cream
1 T. olive oil 
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. white pepper
Optional: 2 onions, chopped

Combine all ingredients in a large stockpot.  Simmer for 20 minutes until heated through.  Serves about 15.

I also added my own touch by garnishing the chili with avocado's, cilantro, lime wedges, and crushed tortilla chips. 



Monday, November 8, 2010

The Man Cooks!

When Levi and I were dating, I was under the false impression that Levi was an avid cook.  He served a mission in Rome, Italy and learned how to cook the Italian way from old women that he met on the buses.  He still loves to cook Italian food, but I have rarely seen his skills since we have been married.  I really can't blame him for deceiving me...I may have led him to believe that I didn't mind football when we were dating.  I do mind it.  Oh the things you learn about each other after marriage.

Well, Levi finally made me an amazing Italian meal on Sunday night.  He made Lasagna with a homemade Ragu and Bechamel (Bechamel is an Italian sauce that makes Lasagna creamy).  It was SOOOO good!  Tonight, I've decided to make a compromise.  At this very moment, I'm sitting on the couch by Levi, watching football!  Thank goodness for computers... and blogging!  Hehe.  Levi says this doesn't count.  I say it does.

Here are the pictures of his Italian Lasagna:

Homemade Ragu
The final layers
That's my boy!

Meanwhile... I was making these.  

It was a great night in the Kitchen!