Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas to all!



"Without the empty tomb...


there would have been no need for a manger."

May all the joys of the season be yours now and throughout the new year!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Crockpot Peanut Clusters


Crockpot Peanut Clusters

Got Christmas Candy?

Crockpot Peanut Clusters

Well if you've have some of these candy cups....

Crockpot Peanut Clusters

peanuts, chocolate and almond bark and a slow-cooker...

Crockpot Peanut Clusters

in just a little over 3 hours...

Crockpot Peanut Clusters

you can make close to 100 of these little babies while you wrap presents, bake, cook, and  clean for company!

Crockpot Peanut Clusters

Crockpot Peanut Clusters are a special treat for Santa's tray along with all your Christmas guests that will be stopping by. 

Trust me, you will be making these for New Year's Eve, Valentine's Day, and every other special occasion coming your way.  It's a perfectly sized blend of sweet and salty, crunchy, smooth chocolate.

Crockpot Peanut Clusters
{adapted from  Redbook, Tricia Yearwood}
  • 2 pounds (36 ounces) salted dry-roasted peanuts
  • 4 ounces (4 squares) German's Sweet Chocolate
  • 1 (12 ounce) package semisweet chocolate chips (about 2 cups)
  • 2-1/2 pounds white almond bark
Put the peanuts in the bottom of a 4-quart slow-cooker.  Layer the chocolate over the peanuts, beginning with the sweet chocolate, followed by the chocolate chips, then add the almond bark.  Set the temperature on low and cook for 3 hours.  Do not stir the mixture.  After 3 hours, stir the mixture with a wooden spoon until smooth.  Drop the candy in 1-1/2" candy cups.  Allow the candy to cool completely.  Makes approximately 90 to 95 candies.

Sugar and Spice makes Christmas Nice and so does a Christmas baby, "Happy Birthday" Zach, and Go Boise State Broncos @ the Maaco Bowl tonight!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Kim's 4 Grain Pilaf

Kim's 4 Grain Pilaf

This cheery little snowman is one of my favorite Christmas friends.  He is surrounded by vintage nutcrackers and yet in my mind he is a star.  I adore his shimmering snow, bright scarf and mittens, carrot nose and how he tips his top-hat each time I walk in the room, making me smile!

Kim's 4 Grain Pilaf

My sweet sister, Kim, {today is her 50-something birthday along with my 2 year-old granddaughter, Elsie.  Happy, happy birthday to two of my favorite gals, both shining stars}, anyway she shared her delicious pilaf with me several years ago and it is a prized recipe.  Why?  It's easy to make, colorful, full of texture, and is a tasty side with almost anything.

Like my snowman, Kim's 4 Grain Pilaf holds it's own and is one of my most frequently requested dishes.  This time of the year I enjoy serving it with Cranberry Barbecue Chicken at holiday parties. It can even dress up sliced roast chicken when Mrs. Santa is wrapping Christmas up!

Kim's 4 Grain Pilaf

Kim's 4 Grain Pilaf

  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot shredded
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/3 cup each, barley, brown rice and bulgar
  • 3 tablespoons wild rice
  • 2-3/4 cups beef or chicken broth
  • 3/4 each basil, oregano, salt, and pepper
Toast almonds and set aside.  Saute until soft in butter, onion, carrots and parsley.  Add and saute until lightly browned, barley, brown rice, bulgar, and wild rice.  Stir in broth, herbs, salt and pepper.  Cover and cook on low heat 60 minutes. Garnish with toasted almonds and serve hot.

Tip:  If you are using homemade beef or chicken stock, add the salt.  If you opt for chicken or beef bouillon, be very careful about adding additional salt.  Instead, pass the salt shaker!  Yes, another lesson learned the hard way..."note to self."  

HO! HO! HO!  Party On my friends...


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Oh Christmas Tree

Oh Christmas Tree
Be merry all, be merry all;
With holly dress the festive hall;
Prepare the song, the feast, the ball,
To welcome merry Christmas.
~William Robert Spencer

Oh Christmas Tree

Decorating for Christmas has been so delightful this year.  First of all, it's the first year in our new home.  Also, it will be our first Christmas at home in 5 years.  Opening each box of Christmas treasures has been a gift, unwrapping each "old friend!"  

Oh Christmas Tree

May the spirit of Christmas bring you peace,
The gladness of Christmas give you hope,
The warmth of Christmas grant you love.

More "home for the holidays" decor to come.  Thanks for stopping by friends.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Raspberry Sugar Muffins



Raspberry Sugar Muffins

Top of the muffin to ya-all!

Need a little sweet somethin', somethin' to pair with eggs, soup, salad, or a cup of warm herbal tea?

Raspberry Sugar Muffins
Raspberry Sugar Muffins will bring back memories of warm summer days, so pretty with glistening crusty sugar tops.  Besides the muffins, your home will smell holiday divine!

Raspberry Sugar Muffins

This berry filled bite is for you my friends, especially those who are experiencing a snowy day.

Raspberry Sugar Muffins
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh raspberries (frozen works too)
Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners or spray with non-stick cooking spray.  In a medium bowl, combine 1-3/4 cups of the flour, 1/2 cup of sugar, the baking powder, and salt.  Add the butter and combine.  In a second bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, and vanilla.  Gradually add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined; the batter will be lumpy.  Toss the berries with the remaining flour in a bowl.  Gently fold the berry mixture into the batter.  Fill each muffin cup 3/4 full.  Sprinkle the batter with the remaining sugar.  Bake for 17 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.  Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool for ten minutes.  Serve warm with lots of love.

Raspberry Sugar Muffins

Try this muffin recipe with blackberries or blueberries instead of raspberries.  Or use a combination of all three.    For extra crunchy muffin tops, sprinkle a little more sugar on.

Merry and Bright to all...

Friday, December 2, 2011

Maple Nut Sheet Cake

If you are a fan of Maple Bars and like a lot of 'em, you will be smitten with...

Maple Texas Sheet Cake

Maple Nut Sheet Cake.

Maple Texas Sheet Cake

My sister reports that she ate carefully over Thanksgiving, except for this yummy cake she just couldn't leave alone.  She said, "It was crazy good!"   

Maple Texas Sheet Cake

Ya know how they say everything's,"Big as all hell and half of Texas," well this cake is!  After a small nibble it is going to be shared by four new families that have recently moved into our neighborhood, thank goodness! 

Maple Nut Sheet Cake

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons maple extract
Icing
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3-1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon maple extract
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
Directions
Boil water and butter in a saucepan.  Cream eggs, sugar, and sour cream in mixer or large mixing bowl.  In a separate bowl combine dry ingredients.  Begin alternating the butter/water mixture and dry mixture into the egg/sugar mixture.  Add maple extract and mix well.  Pour into a greased 15 x 10" pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 22 minutes or until cake tests done in the center.  While cake is baking, start the icing.   Boil butter and milk in a small saucepan.  Remove from heat and add sugar and maple extract.  Mix until smooth.  Fold in walnuts.  Pour over cake about 5 minutes after it comes out of the oven.  Spread evenly.  Enjoy warm or cold, cut to 48 bars and serve with lots!


Maple Texas Sheet Cake


Ohhhh, this cake is so moist and delicious, perfect for a party or open house.  It's definitely time to wrap 'em up and get them out the door.

Show some love to your neighbors and have a happy weekend all!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Winter Car Kit

We just returned from a road trip with our kids to Washington for Thanksgiving.  I was extra grateful that the mountain passes were clear and we had an uneventful trip, but that hasn't always been the case.  Several years ago we were traveling home on New Year's Day when a car of coeds pulled into the left lane on icy snowy Idaho roads on top of us.  Our big pick-up went flying off the road and rolled four times.  We survived the crash with cuts and bruises and thanks to our seat-belts we were held tightly in the cab even though my door was torn off.

We are all busy decking the halls for the holidays.  Please take a few minutes and get your car serviced and ready for winter driving too.  


Keep These Items In Your Vehicle As A Winter Driving Kit

  • Ice Scraper/Snow Brush    
  • Flashlight/Batteries             
  • Non-Clumping Kitty Litter (for traction)
  • General First Aid Kit          
  • Blanket/Sleeping Bag        
  • Flares/Reflective Triangles     
  • Shovel
  • Toolkit/Jumper Cables     
  • Cell Phone/Car Charger     
  • Non-Perishable Food/ Drinking Water



Come to think of it, a Winter Car Kit would make a fabulous Christmas gift!  What works well for you?  Please share any winter travel tips.   It will help me sleep better at night!

Join me tomorrow for a delicious treat I'll be sharing with you and my new neighbors.

Making for a merry and bright December.

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