Monday, February 28, 2011

I know a real live Author!!!

I couldn't be more excited for my special friend, Mesu Andrews!  Her first book is being officially released tomorrow, March 1st.  

Click here to see the beautiful trailer of her fictional story based on the Biblical Job.



Isn't this cover fabulous!?  It feels so 'inviting' to me.
How blessed I am to call her Friend!  God crossed our paths about 8 years ago and we have grown to be sisters of the heart.

We've been honored to actually be together 3 times since then!  She lives on the other side of the country now, so we keep in touch via cyberspace.

She truly has a very special gift for writing and has such a unique talent with words. She's also a well known women's speaker.  What a gal she is!

I've begun reading my copy of Love Amid the Ashes - I am in awe at how the words and descriptions just flow for this gifted woman and friend!

Mesu is good friends with author/Women of Faith speaker Carol Kent!!  Carol wrote a review on the back cover and this is what she says...

"Mesu Andrews has skillfully brought the Old Testament story of Job to life in Love Amid the Ashes.  Throughout this book she explains Job's faithful adherence to studying the teachings of El Shaddai.  Then she creatively reveals how those principles are demonstrated by his interaction with Dinah.  You will be moved to tears as the characters reflect the mysterious role suffering plays in our faith.  If you enjoy a story that includes a powerful plot, romantic passion, and biblical truth, read this book!"

Check out her blog at http://www.mesuandrews.com/to read more details and purchase your own copy.  She's selling at several big-name websites.
And in bookstores across the country.

WOOOHOOOO!!!  I know God has great plans for Mesu and this is just the beginning!

Thanks for sharing in her joy..and in mine.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Muffins

I just came across a favorite cookbook that's been hiding in my cupboard for far too long.  It has terrific recipes...perfect for those whose quest is better health.

I LOVE THIS BOOK!

The recipes are simple and enjoyable and very delicious!  You can get your own copy here. I'd say $10.95 is a darn good price!

I plan to focus on recipes from this cookbook for the next 2 weeks, so stay tuned for some healthier yummies for your tummies.

The recipe I'm sharing first is one of my all-time favorites!  A very similar recipe is in my cookbook, listed under 'lighter choices' in the "Bread & Rolls' section.

And I don't have to be counting calories or points to make and enjoy it! These taste like 'dessert'!

(I baked these while we're having a big snowstorm, so I thought the snowman peeking out on the placemat was perfect!)


MMM!  Melt in your mouth sweetness!!  You can hardly believe they're made from these simple ingredients!  It's so difficult to imagine they really are low in fat too!


My cookbook recipe doesn't call for the cinnamon chips, but they sure add a delicious zing to this tasty treat. (Cinnamon chips can be found in the chocolate chip aisle - sometimes only seasonally.  I had some left over in the freezer from the holidays.)

If you're not fond of spice cake, try chocolate.  I've made them many times using the chocolate, minus the cinnamon chips.

Folks cannot believe they have pumpkin in them!

The recipe says to make 24 regular sized muffins - I made 20 good sized ones....and filled the pans like this...(Oh how I need new muffin pans - these are SOOO old!)

PUMPKIN CINNAMON CHIP MUFFINS
(From Halfmysize.com)

1 (18 oz) spice cake mix
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
1/2 c. water
1 (10 oz) bag cinnamon chips
(usually located near chocolate chips...sometimes only available seasonal)
{I had mine in the freezer}

Preheat oven to 350. Spray 24 muffin tins with nonstick cooking spray. Combine pumpkin, (I rinse out the can with a little bit of water and add that to the mix also) cake mix and water; mix well. (I stir with a wooden spoon or spatula). Stir in cinnamon chips. Fill muffin tins about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until done. I allow to stand in pan a couple of minutes before removing to cool. Yield: 24 muffins

Nutritional info per muffin: Calories: 160; fat 4.8 gr; fiber: 0.7 gr

(I prefer a larger muffin and made 20 instead - and prebaked, mine were still about 3/4 full)

After cooled, I froze a few of these. It's so easy to get one out, wrap it in a paper towel, and 'zap' it in the microwave for a warm and quick part of your breakfast.  Great! with coffee too.

Enjoy!!!!!!!!! 

Have a nice weekend and stay safe & warm ~
I'll be doing lots of baking while snowed in!

This recipe is linked to Sweets for a Saturday
                       Gooseberry Patch Roundup
                 Ingredient Spotlight: Tea

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Homestyle Creamy Tomato Soup...from Scratch



I LOVE creamy tomato soup! 

This is a hardy recipe that can be found in my cookbook - Recipes & Recollections from The Better Baker - because I love it so much. 

It's easy too. Can be easily doubled for larger families.  Takes only a few ingredients - use what you have on hand.



I used low sodium canned tomato soup, 1/3 reduced fat cream cheese, and fat free 1/2 & 1/2 instead of milk. 

You could also use fat free cream cheese (just remember - it has more water, so when it is beaten {or food processed} it tends to make everything runnier).



A grilled cheese sandwich is the perfect accompaniment along side this yummy soup. MMMMMM!!

When tomatoes are in abundance in the summertime, I freeze them whole(washed but unpeeled)...put several in a freezer bag and throw them in. 

When I'm ready to use them for cooking, I let them thaw first, and the peel comes right off.

Because we had recently cleaned out our big freezer (OH how nice to know what's really in there!) we found a bag of tomatoes, I brought them to the kitchen to thaw and didn't even have to think of what I would make with them.



If using a can of tomatoes, I recommend saving the juice first, and adding it to the soup at the end for consistency. 

I like mine thick, so I only added a little bit of juice to the soup before serving.  But you can add more juice to stretch the soup too - just do your thing! 

Do hope you'll try this tummy-warming and tastebud-satisfying dish.



HOMESTYLE CREAMY TOMATO SOUP
(From Marsha - The Better Baker)

1/2 onion, chopped
1 TB. butter or margarine
1 (14 ozs) can diced tomatoes
1/2 c. milk
1 (10 oz) can condensed tomato soup
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. garlic powder

In large saucepan over medium heat, saute onion in butter until tender.  Place tomatoes, milk, soup and cream cheese in blender.  Whir until smooth (or not as long if you prefer chunky tomatoes) add to oniosn in pan.  Stir in remaining ingredients; heat until hot, stirring, being careful not to boil.  Serve immediately.  Makes 4 servings

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Showers of Blessings!



  PSALM 34:8 - O TASTE AND SEE THAT THE LORD IS GOOD; BLESSED IS THE (WO)MAN WHO TRUSTS IN HIM.



I'm soo excited & blessed to have received an email this week informing me that I won an online dessert contest at The Book Club Network!

Here's what the email had to say...

The Just Desserts Contest update

The best recipe chosen was:

Cherry Chip Cheesecake Bars by Marsha J Baker. We have a WINNER and I will be letting her know and getting the gift card out to her today! Congratulations!


I got this message from them earlier this week...

This wasn't easy. We boiled it down (no pun intended) to 23 of the best recipes (I gained 5 lbs just reading them)

And then Nora and Hilary went through and picked the best 7

We then assigned our top culinary secret mission team the task of picking the best three. The latest results are on the site!

The top three recipes chosen were....brownies, apple cinnamon boston cream pie, and my cheesecake bars.

I'm sure hoping I can get those other competing recipes!

My 'blooming' author friend, Mesu Andrews (I will soon share more about her new book being published next week) knows how much I love recipes, and sent me the link for
this contest in January.

I paid no attention to the prize - I just love contests - and it wasn't until yesterday that I found the original email telling what the prize was....

OH MY!  I'm being sent a $100 gift card to spend at a high-end kitchen store online -

    
PLUS I get two books - the authors have already contacted me.  They are...

ALWAYS THE BAKER AND NEVER THE BRIDE - by Sandi Bricker and
DEADLY TIES - by Vicki Hinze

Coincidentally, I received my copy of Mesu's book just today, and long to find time to concentrate on getting it read. 

I'm able to read while on the road, so whenever we are out and about, I will be reading these books.

My winning recipe - Cherry Chip Cheesecake Bars - is in my cookbook.  And yes, I will be sharing it here in the near future too. *-*

Actually, it's a Betty Crocker recipe and you can often find the recipe on the back side of the Cherry Chip cake mixes.

You know how you sometimes get those email questionaires?  I am thinking of one in particular, that asks to name your favorite dessert.

EVERY TIME I answer CHERRY CHIIP CHEESECAKE BARS!  They are so rich and fantastic!

I often tell folks this is one of those desserts I need to serve to a crowd, otherwise, I eat waaaay too many of them myself!

Stay tuned - once you try them, you'll be hooked on them too!!

They're also very beautiful to look at too...(wiping the drool)


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My Mom's Favorite - Granny Cake

What a wonderful and easy one-bowl cake!  I love moist cakes, and this one really 'takes the cake'....(OK - forgive me for that one)  

My mom loved this cake and I can't make it without thinking of her and her love of being in the kitchen..and how she showed us her love by the delicious creations she made there.  




You can't really see how wonderfully moist it is in this picture, but trust me, it is. The sauce that is poured over the top puts it 'over the top'....

If you prefer, frost the cooled cake with cream cheese frosting instead of using the liquid topping....then sprinkle with nuts.  

But it won't be nearly as moist. I'm a huge fan of cream cheese, but I do prefer the cooked topping instead.




GRANNY CAKE


2 c. sugar
(I cut it back to 1-1/2 and use 1/2 c. of that in Splenda)
2 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 (20ozs) can crushed pineapple, undrained

TOPPING:
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. chopped nuts
1/4 c. sugar
1 stick margarine
1 c. evaporated milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 9" X 13" baking dish.  Mix sugar, flour, baking soda, salt and eggs together.  Add pineapple and blend well.  Pour into prepared pan.  Combine brown sugar and nuts; sprinkle over top before baking. Bake about 30 - 40 minutes.
(If using Splenda - will bake faster)

TOPPING:
Combine remaining sugar, margarine, and evaporated milk; bring to a boil, then add vanilla.  Pour over hot cake and let stand.  Serve warm or cold.

This post has been linked to Melt in Your Mouth Monday
A Peek Into My Paradise

Friday, February 18, 2011

Chicken Broccoli Casserole

This is a wonderful one-dish meal. I quickly made this to take to my son's family for dinner, and didn't get many pictures...

But...

The day after I made this, I saw this post at Sweet as Sugar Cookies - and Lisa's picture there is GREAT!  So take a peek...she calls her dish Chicken Divan. Nice! Be sure to check out her Sweets for a Saturday 'party'. I have her new button at the button of my blog list. I do think she had more cheese in her tasty-looking dish than I did.  *-*

After I mixed the soup/mayo/egg/lemon juice, I poured it over the chicken & broccoli.

Since I didn't have seasoned stuffing mix, I used crushed crackers - mixed them with melted butter and sprinkled over the top.

What a tasty tasty combination of flavors! 

(Yes, I took a spoonful out before delivering it to our son's home! I HAD to...sometimes it's important to taste it before giving it away, right?=)


CHICKEN/BROCCOLI CASSEROLE
(From Marsha - The Better Baker)

1 - 16 oz. pkg. frozen chopped broccoli
3 c. cooked, chopped chicken breasts
1 (10-3/4 oz) can cream of chicken soup
1 (10 -3/4 oz) can cream of celery soup
2/3 c. mayonnaise (use real)
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 c. grated cheddar cheese
6 Tb. butter or margarine, melted
2 - 3 c. seasoned stuffing mix

Preheat oven to 350. Cook, drain and cool broccoli; place in bottom of greased 9" X 13" baking dish.  Put bite-sized pieces of chicken on top of broccoli.  Mix soups, mayo, egg and lemon juice.  Spread over chicken. Sprinkle with cheese. Melt butter;toss with stuffing mix; spread over cheese.  Cover with foil; bake 30 minutes; remove foil and bake another 30 minutes.

Dish can be made a day ahead and refrigerated.

Enjoy a fabulous weekend!  Spring is only 30 days away!!!!


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Dressed Up Green Beans + Better Baker Bargains

I made this a while back, and haven't been able to think of a clever name for it, so this is what I ended up with...

I got the idea from another recipe, but I just didn't take this one 'as far', and it was oh so delicious.

Here's a picture of it simmering on my stove...see that lovely steam rising as it cooks.


This is what I did....

I sauteed some chopped onion in olive oil until it caramelized a little bit, then added water, a bag of frozen green beans, and about 1 Tb. brown sugar.  I let it simmer for about 12 minutes and then we gobbled it up.

This is a basic recipe - hope you enjoy it too, and make it your own by
adding anything else your family would enjoy.

1/2 med. onion, chopped
1 Tb. olive oil
1 - 1# bag of frozen green beans
about 1/2 c. water (or chicken broth)
1 Tb. brown sugar
(I used 1/2 Tb. brown sugar splenda)

I served it topped with fresh ground pepper.

(My hubby's nickname is BEAN, and he loves beans of all kinds - that's how he got the name when he was very young. So...we do eat alot of them, and we enjoyed this 'spin' on a simple dish.)

@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

I love grocery shopping!

Mostly because I buy what's on sale and use coupons.

Not long ago, I saved more than I spent and I saved this receipt to prove it to you!  WOOOOOHOOOOO!!

Almost everything I purchased that day was on sale.  The store figures the original prices of those items + your coupon amounts to let you know how much you saved.  I LIKE IT!!  I LIKE IT!!!

Take a look see...


Are you able to read that?  I paid out $19.31 and my total savings added up to $19.78 - is that a blast or what????

Thank you Lord for great deals and helping me save $$!

I love my grocery store!!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Homemade Pizza with Whole Wheat Crust

OOOOh-so delicious!

When I read this post that my good friend Angie had at A'lil Country Sugar
for whole wheat pizza crust, I knew it was going to be something I tried soon, especially since her family raved about it, and I hadn't made pizza at home for some time.

I invite you to check out Angie's post and recipe (psst - at the link above)

So I made it for our Valentine's Day dinner - just the 2 of us.  I made it into a heart-shaped (kinda) pizza crust....you get the idea anyway.




I also 'kicked it up a notch' by making a stuffed crust with string cheese around the outside edge, wrapped in the dough.  It was easy to do and made it tasty and cheesy-er. (ahem...healthier too)

There was a lot of dough.  Since we like thick crust, that's what we enjoyed. I pre-baked it for about 8 - 9 minutes before adding the sauce and toppings.  I think it would easily fill a larger cookie sheet, depending on how thick you prefer the crust.  

I also sprinkled some cornmeal on the greased pan prior to spreading the dough as we like the crunch and taste it adds to pizza.


This is what it looked like after pre-baking....


I spread canned pizza sauce on the crust, added some mozzarella cheese, then chopped canadian bacon, pineapple tidbits and black olives, then more shredded cheese. 

It was the perfect combination for our taste buds.




MMMM!  Just mouth-watering, don't you think?

It was very delicious and filling. This will definitely be something we enjoy again.

I made a few simple changes in the recipe... I'll share them within the recipe itself. 


Here ya go....

WHOLE WHEAT PIZZA CRUST

1 pkg. (scant 1 Tb.) active dry yeast
1-1/2 c. warm water (110 - 115 degrees)
2 Tbs. vegetable oil (I used canola)
1-1/4 c. whole wheat flour (I used 1 - I was running low)
2 Tbs. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1-3/4 to 2 c. all purpose flour (I used 2-1/4) 

Preheat oven to 350.

In large bowl, dissolve yeast in water; add oil. Combine whole wheat flour, sugar and salt; add to yeast mixture and stir until smooth. Stir in enough all-purpose flour to form a soft dough.  Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 - 8 minutes.  Place in a greased bowl; turn once to grease top.  Cover and let rise in a warm place for 15 - 20 minutes (I let mine rise for 30 minutes on top of stove while oven is heating). Punch dough down.  Pat dough onto the bottom of a 14-inch pizza stone sprinkled lightly with Semolina flour. (I used cornmeal). Form an edge while pressing the dough.  Add the toppings of your choice and bake 30-35 minutes. When crust is golden brown, the pizza is done.

(Another change I made was to bake it for about 22 - 25 minutes at 375 - I was in a rush and it turned out fine.)


HAPPY PIZZA EATING!!!!!!!

This post has been linked to Miz Helen's Full Plate Thursday
Linked to Foodie Friday Made it on Monday Country Pot Luck #2
Ingredient Spotlight

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sour Cream Banana Bread & a Healthy Substitute

This is the best banana bread recipe I've ever made.

My daughter Deb - aka The Queen Mommy - (& is also expecting our #8 grandchild any day!) gave it to me and I'll always be grateful.  This recipe is in my cookbook and I have gotten more good comments about it than just about anything else.

I love how you sprinkle cinnamon/sugar mixture on the bottom/side of the pans...it gives it a nice pizazz and flavor.  MMM!


The recipe can be divided in half if you don't want as many loaves.

I like having smaller ones to share too.

I keep my ripened bananas in the freezer - peel and all.  Just let them thaw before peeling.  I believe it adds more moisture and is much easier than mashing, then freezing them.

A friend's son is going to chef's school.  He said he thinks baking this kind of bread is the hardest thing in his training. When he tasted this bread, he thought it was the best he's ever had.

I thought that was a great compliment!!

(His mom saves her ripened bananas for me...in hopes to get more) *o*

I just open one end of a thawed banana and the rest slides right out!

I don't have a stand mixer...I prefer a hand mixer...and always place the bowl I'm using in the sink to mix things up. It's much easier to wash down the sink than trying to wipe down splatters from the wall and counter.



TA-DA!  End result!!....



Moist & delicious!

You can add nuts, craisins, or even chocolate chips to your liking.


Since I've been asked...Yes - It really does bake at 300 degrees and it really does use 1 TB. baking soda

SOUR CREAM BANANA BREAD

1/4 c. sugar + 1 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 c. butter
3 c. sugar (I successfully use 2-1/2)
3 eggs
6 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 (16 ozs) carton sour cream
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
(I use part grated nutmeg)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tb. baking soda
4-1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 c. chopped nuts, optional

Preheat oven to 300. Grease 4 - 8" x 4" loaf pans.  In small bowl, blend 1/4 c. sugar with 1 tsp. cinnamon.  Dust pans lightly with mixture.  In large bowl, cream butter and sugar; mix in eggs, bananas, sour cream, vanilla and cinnamon.  Stir in salt, baking soda and flour.  Add nuts; pour into prepared pans.  Bake 1 hour until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

These loaves freeze well. Just be sure to wrap tightly before freezing. I think moisture is added after freezing, so I like to make my loaves up a few days ahead just so I can freeze them before serving.

If you want to make this even healthier, use part whole wheat flour (no more than half the required amount)...

And did you know you can also use ground flax seed meal as a healthy egg substitute? 

Use 1 TB. ground flax seed meal mixed with 3 TB. water for 1 egg. 
Substitute for no more than half of the eggs called for in any baked recipe. 

This adds Omega-3 fatty acids and lots of fiber, while eliminating cholesterol.  It's low in carbs and adds a nutty flavor.



Monday, February 14, 2011

100 and counting....

Just gotta share a HAPPY DANCE!!!

As of Monday - Valentine's Day even!  I have 100 fans (blow the horns!) who 'like' my Recipes & Recollections fan page at Facebook. 

What a charge!!!

THANK YOU!!!  THANK YOU!!!

Do you know your Love Language?




I wear a lot of 'hats' and one of the things I do is write a monthly column for a local small town newspaper.  We try to get these listed on separate pages here at my blog, but sometimes that just doesn't happen, so I wanted to share my most recent one with you on this Valentine's Day. This writeup was published in this past week's issue of the Leader Enterprise in Montpelier, Ohio.

(FYI - I submit it with no spaces between punctuation.  I hope that doesn't make it difficult for you to read, but just in case you're wondering???? )

If you don't know your love language, or that of your partner's, I do hope you'll take time to figure that out.  It has made such a difference for me in all the relationships in my life.



Happy Valentine’s Day!It’s my favorite holiday.Some may say that Valentine’s Day is a gimmick for card companies,but I believe it’s a wonderful opportunity to let the special people in your life know you care.While most tend to think it’s just about romantic love,I think if you consider these ideas,they can help build any meaningful relationship.



Author Gary Chapman has written “The Five Love Languages” which has sold more than 1.5 million copies. These are a few of his thoughts about what he believes are the ways we communicate the depth of our affections to others.


1. “GIFTS:A gift is a physical symbol that the giver is thinking about you.A gift doesn’t have to be expensive.People have always said that it’s the thought that counts.But I remind couples it’s not the thought left in your head that counts;it’s the gift that came out of the thought in your head.


2. ACTS OF SERVICE:Do something.This love language is cooking meals,washing dishes,washing cars,taking out the trash.It’s doing anything that you know your spouse would like for you to do (for them).Learn to speak through acts of service.


3. WORDS OF AFFIRMATION:Another way to express love is to use words that affirm:”You look nice in that dress” “You look sharp in that shirt”.”I really appreciate what you did yesterday”.


4. QUALITY TIME:Quality time is not sitting in the same room watching tv.Take a walk or go out to eat,just the two of you,and talk.When you give quality time,you’re focusing on him or her.Maybe you are doing something that both of you like to do,but your focus is on being together,not on the activity itself.


5. PHYSICAL TOUCH:We’ve long known the power of physical touch:holding hands,embracing in an affirming way.






Once you discover which love language makes that special someone feel loved, then choose to learn to ‘speak’ that language.






Learning a second language is difficult.If you speak English,learning Spanish is difficult.If you speak Spanish,learning English is difficult-but you can do it.”






I can’t think of Valentine’s Day without thinking/dreaming about chocolate!Most of us think of enjoying chocolate as a guilty pleasure.If you haven’t heard that dark chocolate can be good for you, keep reading.






There is a great deal of scientific evidence that chocolate–particularly dark chocolate high in cocoa–is good for you.According to a new study ,small doses(1 ounce)of dark chocolate every day could decrease your risk of heart attack or stroke by 40%.






Now don’t think that means inhaling a few candy bars for the sake of your health.Beware of any chocolate bar that lists sugar as the first ingredient.Read labels-the darker chocolate with the higher cocoa concentration has the most benefits.People hoping to benefit from chocolate’s heart healthy effects should cut out other snacks and sweets.Eating too much chocolate will have negative effects that far outweigh the positive effects of cocoa.






I hope you’ll enjoy this fabulous new recipe with 5 simple ingredients.It’s good enough to serve company.


GERMAN CHOCOLATE BARS


1-18 ozs.box german chocolate cake mix


2/3 c.cold butter,cut into pieces


1 c.semisweet chocolate chips


1-15 ozs.tub prepared coconut-pecan frosting


¼ c.milk


Preheat oven to 350.Grease 9”X13”baking dish.Place cake mix in medium bowl;cut butter in until crumbly(A pastry blender works nicely).Press 2-1/2 c. mixture into prepared dish.Bake 10 minutes;immediately sprinkle with chocolate chips.Drop frosting by tablespoonsful over chocolate chips.Stir milk into remaining crumb mixture;drop by teaspoonsful over top.Carefully spread with back of spoon to smooth.Bake 25-30 minutes until bubbly around edges and top is cracked.Cool on wire rack.Refrigerate 3 hours before cutting.Yield:4 dozen.


MINI BROWNIE TREATS


1-18 ozs. box fudge brownie mix (9” X 13” size)


48 striped chocolate kisses,unwrapped


Preheat oven to 350.Prepare brownie mix according to package directions for fudge-like brownies.Fill paper-lined miniature muffin cups 2/3 full.Bake 18-21 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.Cool 1 minute,then top each with a chocolate kiss.Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to wire racks to cool completely.Yield:4 dozen.


Be sure to take time to tell someone you love them.Our tomorrows are not guaranteed.

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!!!!!!

FROM MY HEART TO YOURS....




This is what perfect love is all about....


Friday, February 11, 2011

Black Forest Chocolate Cookies

I added this recipe to my cookbook - Recipes & Recollections from The Better Baker - before I ever made them because I was at a friend's home when her son was taking these cookies out of the oven. 

OH MY!  They melted in my mouth and had such a great flavor!

So...I decided to make them to give away for Valentine's Day.  (Especially since my monthly newspaper column this month talks a little bit about the health benefits of dark chocolate!)


(I found these adorable ziploc bags to 'present' the cookies in
at my local $$ store - I think they're so cute!)


The dough sets in the fridge for atleast 6 hrs...mine was there for days before I baked them.  It's nice to have it ready so when you find a spot of free time, you can start your oven and bake away.



Oh my - look at that smooooooooooth dark chocolate -
this was before adding it to the dough.



BLACK FOREST CHOCOLATE COOKIES

3/4 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
16 ozs dark chocolate (60-72% cacao), coarsely chopped (I used special dark choco chips)
10 Tb. butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
6 lg. eggs
1-1/4 c. white sugar
1 c. firmly packed light brown sugar
1 Tb. pure vanilla extract
1 c. semisweet chocolate chips
1 c. white chocolate chips
1 c. dried cherries

In medium bowl, place flour, baking powder, and salt; blend; set aside. In large metal bowl, combine dark chocolate and butter.  Set bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and mixture is smooth.  (I did this step in the microwave on medium power - check and stir often). Set aside to cool.

In large mixing bowl, beat eggs and sugars on high speed (using whisk attachment if you have one). Beat until mixture is pale and thick, about 5 minutes.  Add the cooled chocolate mixture and vanilla; beat just until combined.  Scrape down bowl and beat again for 10 seconds. Add flour mixture and mix on low until just combined; do not overmix. 

Using a spatula or wooden spoon, fold in the chocolate chips, white chocolate chips and dried cherries.  The dough will look very loose, but will set up in the refrigerator. Cover; refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 375. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Drop dough by rounded tablespoonsful onto prepared baking sheets, about 1" apart.  Bake 10 - 12 minutes, rotating pans halfway through the baking time, until tops are set and begin to show a few cracks.  Remove from oven and cool slightly before removing from pans. 

Cookies can be stored in airtight container for up to 3 days.  Yield: 2 - 3 dozen nice-sized cookies.

(I ended up with about 4 dozen?)  I also used 1 c. of flour so they wouldn't be so flat, so if you use the required amount of flour, your cookies will be flatter.
(That really only matters if you're a texture kind of person).

Please don't let the length of this recipe intimidate you.  They're not difficult at all and very delicious!  Especially warm....

I enjoyed a couple of these cookies while typing up this post...MMM! *-*



I wanted to add this picture to today's post too..I bought both the heart-shaped covered pretzels for $1. at my local Dollar General, and also a pack of 12 of these adorable <3-shaped bags for a $1. I filled them with goodies (including heart shaped pretzels!) to give to my family for Valentine's Day.

You don't have to be extravagant in your gift giving....

As author Gary Chapman tells us "People have always said it's the thought that counts...it's not the thought left in your head that counts, it's the gift that comes out of the thought in your head that counts!

Personally - I'd rather get a cheapie gift...filled with thought...than something expensive that has no thought put into it.

Enjoy a wonderful pre-Valentine's Day weekend showered in love & hugs! 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Strawberry Lemonade Cookies with pink lemonade frosting



When I saw this post by Tiffany at Eat at Home I knew I would have to try this simple recipe.  She created this recipe herself.  Kudos to her! Check out her pictures at the link.

I wanted to do lots of baking to give away for Valentine's Day and these sounded divine.

I wasn't disappointed!  I baked them when we were snowed in, several days before I was going to give them away, so I froze them, then thawed and frosted them. 

Just lovely and 'sunshine-y' don't you think?



STRAWBERRY LEMONADE COOKIES

1 (18 ozs) strawberry cake mix
1 stick butter, softened
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tb. water
1/2 c. pink lemonade mix (dry)

Preheat oven to 350.  In large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix with mixer until blended. Drop by teaspoons onto baking stone or cookie sheet.  Bake 8 - 10 minutes.   (I used my medium Pampered Chef scoop and baked them a tad bit longer for a larger cookie)

Frosting:

1-1/2 c. powdered sugar
3 Tb. powdered pink lemonade mix
3 Tb. soft butter
1 - 3 Tb. milk

Stir powdered sugar and lemonade mix together in small bowl. Stir in the butter; add milk gradually, until frosting reaches spreading consistency.  Spread cooled cookies.  Decorate if desired.

I hope you'll try them too - they'd be delicious any time of the year. 

Linked to Weekend Potluck

      <3  <3  <3  <3  <3  <3  <3  <3  <3  <3  <3 

Now...check out this simple, yet adorable, Valentine gift idea at Cooking with Libby .  Betcha can't make just one! 

TOOO cute!