Sunday, December 23, 2012

And a very Merry CHRISTmas to you and yours!



May you and yours enjoy a blessed CHRISTmas season and all the best to you in the new year!

Thanks a million for all your comments, love and support throughout the year.  It means more than words can express. 

I'm taking a break...will be back in my kitchen on January 2, 2013! Looking forward to spending time with you then....

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Leader Enterprise - Dec. 19, 2012 - Crockpot Helper

As we celebrate the REASON FOR THE SEASON and prepare to enter a new year, I think it's a great time to put your crockpot to work. I love that a dish can be cooking, with little attention, while preparing the rest of the meal, or delivering goodies across town. (Or maybe after seeing these yummy recipes, you'll want to add a crockpot to your Christmas list?)

Cranberry Sauerkraut Meatballs - recipe below

This pudding cake is full of gooey goodness. You can choose to add chocolate chips, peanut butter, or butterscotch - whichever your family prefers. Your friends and family will be impressed and may say 'M-M-MORE please'! This recipe does not use eggs.


1-1/2 c. packed brown sugar, divided
1 c. all purpose flour
6 TB. baking cocoa, divided
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. milk
2 TB. butter, melted
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1-1/2 c. semisweet chocolate (or peanut butter) chips
1-3/4 c. boiling water
vanilla ice cream for serving
Coat a 3-qt.crockpot with nonstick cooking spray. In a bowl, combine 1 c. brown sugar, flour, 3 Tb.cocoa, baking powder and salt.  In another bowl,combine milk, butter, and vanilla; stir into dry ingredients just until combined. Spread evenly into prepared crockpot. Sprinkle with chocolate (or peanut butter) chips.In a bowl, combine remaining brown sugar (1/2 c.) and baking cocoa (3 TB.); stir in boiling water. Pour over batter; DO NOT STIR. Cover and cook on high for about 4 hours or until a toothpick inserted near center of cake comes out clean. Allow to set 15 minutes, covered,before serving. Serve warm with ice cream. Yield: 6-8 servings (Hint:lay a couple of paper towels over top of crockpot before placing on lid to catch any moisture).
This is an easy chocolate-y, caramel-y candy to make in the crockpot when you have plenty else to do. Feel free to substitute your favorite nuts for the peanuts.
1-16 ozs. pkg. chocolate bark
4 ozs. block of German chocolate
1-12 ozs. bag butterscotch chips
1-16 ozs. jar salted peanuts
1-16 ozs. jar unsalted peanuts
10 Kraft caramels (the individuals from a bag)
Break the chocolate bark into blocks and place in crock pot. Now break up the German chocolate block and put in crock pot. Add the remaining ingredients. Place a paper towel on top of the crock pot before placing the lid on. Turn the crock pot on low and cook for two hours. DO NOT remove lid. I know it's tempting, but it's very important to not remove it. After two hours, carefully remove lid and paper towel. Stir mixture to incorporate everything well. Drop by the spoon full onto waxed paper and let them set up well. Share (if you can bring yourself to do so) and ENJOY!
It's always great to have room in the oven for other things, while the side dish cooks in the crockpot.
5# red potatoes, chunked
1 Tb. minced garlic, or to taste
3 tsp. chicken bouillon, or 3 cubes
1 c. (8 ozs) sour cream (lite or fat free)
1- (8 ozs)pkg. cream cheese, softened (lite)
1/4 c. butter
salt&pepper to taste
In large pot, cook potatoes, garlic and bouillon until potatoes are tender, but not mushy (about 15 minutes). Drain, reserving water. In large bowl, mash potatoes with sour cream and cream cheese, adding reserved water as needed for consistency.(Potato texture will soften in crockpot).Transfer potato mixture to crockpot; cover and cook on low for 2-3 hours. Stir in butter, season with salt and pepper just before serving. 

7-8 pound spiral-cut ham (bone-in or boneless)
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. maple syrup
2 c. pineapple juice

Use a 6-7 quart crock pot. Unwrap ham from wrapper; discard the flavor packet. Place ham inside crock pot, flat side down. Rub the brown sugar over all sides of the ham. Then pour on the maple syrup and pineapple juice. Cover and cook on low heat for 4 - 5 hours. Baste ham with juices an hour or so before serving. When cooking is done, carefully remove ham from crock pot and place on a cutting board. Let rest 15 minutes before carving.

These meatballs are terrific as an appetizer or an entree. Even folks who don't like sauerkraut, are wild about these.I've been told adding sauerkraut to the cranberry sauce puts this dish 'over the top'! 


1 - (14 ozs) can whole-berry cranberry sauce
(jellied works fine too)
1 - (14 ozs) can sauerkraut, rinsed and drained well
1 - (12 ozs) bottle chili sauce
2/3 c. brown sugar
1 - (2 #) pkg.frozen fully cooked original meatballs, thawed

In 4-qt.slow cooker, combine cranberry sauce, sauerkraut, chili sauce, and brown sugar. Stir in meatballs; cover and cook on low 4-5 hrs.or until heated through. Yield: 5-1/2 dozen delicious meatballs!!

Here's a wonderful idea I saw on the internet: Start the year with an empty jar and fill it with notes about good things that happen. On New Year's Eve, empty it and see what awesome stuff happened that year. Super great way to keep things in perspective.

May you & yours enjoy a safe and happy Christmas and New Year's. I look forward to being here with you again in 2013!

Friday, December 21, 2012

1-2-3 Fudge {Microwave} & Weekend Potluck #47


(Since ya'll will be tired of cooking, and we look forward to a break, Weekend Potluck will return in TWO weeks..ya'll come back now ya hear?)

We can all return refreshed & ready to head back to the kitchen in the new year!! get a fresh, new recipe instead of a Flashback today! 

I've been making this fast and easy fudge for years.  You can change it up by using different frosting flavors, or chips, adding extracts, etc.  
Can't beat it for E-Z!! 

THREE simple ingredients - 4 if you want to add nuts or craisins....


1-2-3 FUDGE 

1 - 16 ozs. tub milk chocolate ready-to-use frosting
1 - 12 ozs. bag milk chocolate baking chips
1 Tb. butter
1/2 - 1 c. nuts or craisins, optional 

Grease a 9" X 9" pan.  Place frosting, chips and butter in a glass bowl.  Heat in the microwave for 1 minutes; stir to melt and blend everything together.  Stir in nuts or craisins.  Pour into prepared pan.  Allow to cool. Cut into squares.

Yield: 36 pieces 

Linked to Ingredient Spotlight - Chocolate

Now, let's take a quick peek back at last week...

The recipe with the most clicks was ~

Cherry Pie BarsCherry Pie Bars by Julie’s Eats & Treats

Recipes that caught our attention ~

Christmas GIfts From Your KitchenChristmas Gifts From Your Kitchen by My Biscuits Are Burning
Flavored ButtersFlavored Butters by Your Home Based Mom

And, a personal favorite ~

Cherry Nut Chicken Salad by Miz Helen's Country Cottage 

If you were featured today, please remember to grab the Featured Button below...

Weekend Potluck Featured

Your hostesses ~

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Paradise Pumpkin Pie

We enjoyed this favorite holiday pie for Thanksgiving. The photo is the last piece left when I got in line to get mine!

A yummy layer of spicy pumpkin on top of a layer of cream cheese!  OH MY!

Just can't go wrong with that combo.  

Enjoy every creamy bite!


1 - 8 ozs. pkg. cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 c. white sugar (or xylitol, or your fav substitute)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg
1 - 9" unbaked pie shell
1-1/4 c. canned pumpkin
1/2 c. white sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
dash of salt
1 c. (2% or fat free) evaporated milk 

Preheat oven to 350. In small bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar & vanilla, mixing until well blended. Add egg and beat until smooth. Spread in bottom of unbaked pie crust.

In large bowl, combine remaining ingredients; mix well.  Carefully pour mixture over cream cheese (I pour slowly from the bowl onto a big spoon so it doesn't pour directly 'into' the cream cheese) Bake 1 hour and 5 minutes. Cool. Brush with maple syrup or honey while still warm.

Tip: If using splenda, check 10 - 15 minutes ahead of time for 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Easy Monster Cookies

I am SUCH a cookie monster!  Always have been.

My sis-in-love, Vicki, makes killer chocolate chips and monster cookies too. 

I do OK with both of them...but she must bake more love into hers than I do because they are just always better than anyone's.  :-/

Since I can't seem to 'Match the Master', I was tickled to find this simple Monster Cookie recipe in an August issue of Woman's World magazine...using cookie mixes.

Specifically, using a chocolate chip and a peanut butter cookie mix - adding a few oats, butter, eggs and chocolate candies, you turn out one honkin' delicious Monster Cookie.

And no one, but you, will ever know.

(Unless you try to pass them by my sil Vicki=)

A great treat to make for the holidays - freeze them to have on hand when unexpected company comes by or to take to the office to share...or to send with hubby to work...or to take to the next party..well, you get the idea. 


 1 pouch (1 lb., 1.5 ozs size) chocolate chip cookie mix
1 pouch (1 lb., 1.5 ozs size) peanut butter cookie mix
1-1/2 c. quick cooking oats
1 c. butter or margarine, room temp
3 eggs
2 c. M & M candies 

Preheat oven to 375*. 

In large bowl, stir all ingredients except candies, until soft dough forms.  Stir in candies. On ungreased baking sheets, place about 1/4 c. dough about 3" apart. 

Bake 12 - 13 minutes or until light golden brown.  Cool 2 minutes; remove from baking sheets to coolling racks.  Store cooled cookies in covered container at room temp. 

Yield: 18 MONSTER cookies

To make 3 dozen smaller cookies, drop dough by 2 heaping Tablespoonsful about 2" apart on ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake 10 - 12 minutes. 

Linked to Mix it up Monday

Lark's Pecan Chews

(Since I'm trying to wrap up my own baking for the week, I wanted to share this fabulous cookie recipe so maybe you can get it made before the new year comes in too...)


My good buddy, Lark, at Lark's Country Heart, is one of the most creative cooks I've ever known!

She is always blowing me away with the things she just makes up in her head!  

She is definitely gifted.

I am SO fond of pecan pie, and pecan pie when I saw this recipe at Lark's blog earlier this year, I knew I would go bonkers over this creation.

Not only did I, but others did as well because I shared them at a graduation open house this summer. I had lots of compliments and requests for the recipe. 

It's an awesome combo of pecan pie and cookie! And makes a great addition to any holiday cookie tray!

(As I was preparing this post, I realized my photo is very blurry so I am using Lark's and giving her credit....I will just have to make them again!)

photo credit: Lark's Country Heart 


1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. margarine, softened
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
3 TB. corn syrup

1 c. chopped pecans
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. flour
1/4 c. evaporated milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350.
Cream together the brown sugar and margarine,
then add the egg and vanilla. Slowly add  the remaining ingredients.
Once dough is mixed smooth, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.

While the dough is chilling, start the filing. In a sauce pan mix all of the ingredients together until sugar is dissolved.  Let chill until the dough is ready.
 Spray lightly a baking sheet with cooking spray. Shape dough into balls, place onto baking sheet. Indent each cookie with your thumb.
Place a small amount of the filling into each indention.
Bake for 9-12 minutes

Remove cookies from the pan to cool
on a wire rack. Store in an air tight container.

(May drizzle with chocolate if you'd like a prettier presentation)

Linked to Weekend Potluck

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Gooey Chocolate Cream Cheese Cookies

Now who could possibly resist a cookie with that title???


All 3 descriptions.....GOOEY...CHOCOLATE...CREAM CHEESE....grab me by the neck and throw me towards the cookie plate! 

AND...these yummy treats are made with a CAKE MIX!!


That means they can be made quicker, and I'm loving that. 

This is a combination of a cookie recipe from my daughter-in-love, Lyn, that's in my cookbook, and Paula Deen's famous gooey cookies.  The only difference is adding the egg & vanilla (in Paula's recipe), so just know you can make these cookies without an egg if you prefer....but adding the egg also adds the 'gooey' to the cookie.  (And you don't have to refrigerate the dough first either).  They don't HAVE to be rolled in powdered sugar either, but I think that 'crinkly' look dresses them up. 

I had mini M & M's on hand too, so we added them also. The recipe doesn't call for them though. 


1 - 8 ozs. pkg. cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick butter or margarine, softened
1 egg (optional - but they won't be as 'gooey' without)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 - 18 ozs. moist devil's food cake mix 
powdered sugar, optional

Preheat oven to 350.
In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Beat in the egg; add vanilla extract. Beat in the cake mix. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. Roll the chilled batter into tablespoon sized balls and then roll them in confectioner's sugar, (or not). Place 2" apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 11 - 12 minutes. The cookies will remain soft and "gooey." (MMM - MY favorite part!) Cool completely and sprinkle with more confectioners' sugar, if desired.

Linked to Weekend Potluck

Monday, December 17, 2012

Captain Crunch Peanut Clusters

Well...we just can't go through the holiday season and not share some chocolate treats, now can we?! 

After comparing two recipes recommended by 2 dear friends...
(thanks Betty & Janean!), I decided to 'make my own' recipe according to what I had on hand...and needed to use up. 

Use what you have - how can you go wrong covering anything in chocolate??
This is an easy recipe and it made 2 cookiesheetsful. I used my medium Pampered Chef scoop to drop these - worked like a charm.


2# chocolate almond bark
(I used white that I had on hand)
6 ozs. milk or semi sweet chocolate chips
3 Tb. peanut butter
5 c. Captain Crunch cereal
1 c. rice krispies 
(or use 6 c. Capt. Crunch)
2 c. peanuts
Melt chocolates along with peanut butter in the microwave. (follow directions for melting almond bark). Stir until melted and smooth.

Combine cereals and peanuts in a bowl. Pour chocolate over top; stir gently until combined; drop onto waxed paper lined cookie sheets. 

That's it!  Wait til they're cool (if you can) and share with friends
(before you eat them all!) That's what I had to do. 
Linked to Totally Tasty Tuesday
Weekend Potluck
Foodie Friends Friday
Ingredient Spotlight - Chocolate
GBP Roundup - Christmas Cookies/Candy  

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Salted Caramel Coffee Toffee Cookies

Before I head into a 'normal' week of posts and food, I must take time to recognize the folks of Sandy Hook, CT.  I know all of our hearts are agonizing over this senseless tragedy. Will you join me in praying fervently for the families who have lost their precious babes?

I am thrilled to have an address to send sympathy cards to. I think it helps to be able to do something tangible also. If you'd like to do the's
Sandy Hook Elementary School
12 Dickenson Dr.
PO Box 3700
Sandy Hook, CT 06482

I'm sure the cards will be read by many. I pray that God wraps those families who have lost a loved one, in His strong arms and comforts them like no one else can. 

 Just so you know....
From now until Christmas eve, I will be sharing mostly Christmas goodies. I want to get them out of my drafts so I can concentrate more on healthier eating in the new year.....and I want YOU to enjoy them this favorite time of the year! ;-}

Man!  These are the BEST cookies!

It isn't often I repeat a recipe within several months, but these I make again and again.  They have truly become a favorite!

How awesome is it to have your coffee & cookie wrapped up in one tasty bite??? 

I adapted this just a tad, but found this lovely recipe at A 'lil Country Sugar. Angie named this creation of hers...CARAMEL CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES (WITH STABUCKS VIA) She's is one of the few bloggers I've ever met with face to face.  We only live about 25 minutes away from each other and have had lunch a few times, so that's fun. 

She was my 'helper' at one of my local cookbook signings also. I always love her tried & true recipes and always enjoy time with her. 

Angie loves using bread flour in cookies and I do think it makes them softer, longer. 

This is what Angie had to say about using bread flour...

"The bread flour makes for a softer cookie. The cookies remain moist and soft, where the all-purpose flour cookie seems to dry out after the first day." 

I have a friend who is stationed overseas....I sent her a batch of these cookies and she described them as...TO.DIE.FOR!

They have caramel syrup in them and Starbucks VIA caramel coffee. 

The first time I was making them, I was sure I had chocolate chunks, but only had toffee, so that's what I used, and that's what I'm stickin' with.  

They are amazing for sure!

A great addition to your holiday cookie trays.  I just LOVE the sea salt sprinkles on top of the cookie.  Makes a very interesting and attractive treat. 


1 c. butter (2 sticks)
3/4 c. sugar
1 c. packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1-1/2 TBS vanilla extract
1/4 c. caramel syrup (Hershey's original caramel sauce)
3 3/4 c. bread flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 pkg. Starbucks VIA ready-to-brew caramel flavor coffee
(about 1 tsp)
1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
1- 8 ozs. bag Heath Bits 'O Brickle Toffee Bits or 
1 1/2 c. chocolate chunks - Ghirardelli premium baking chips - 60% cacao
Sea Salt

Preheat oven to 350. In large bowl, beat butter and sugars until well combined. Add eggs, vanilla, and caramel sauce & beat until well combined.
Place all dry ingredients in a bowl (flour, salt, Starbucks VIA, baking soda) and whisk together. Add slowly to wet ingredients mixing until everything is combined. Mix in toffee (or chocolate chunks).
Using a large cookie scoop (ice cream scoop will work) place on baking sheets. Press cookies down with your fingers after placing on cookie sheet, or using a fork, press cookie down in a crisscross fashion. Lightly sprinkle with salt before baking (yes, salt). Bake 10 - 12 minutes. Don't overbake.

 Leave the cookies sit on the cookie sheets for a couple minutes after taking them out of the oven. Move to cooling racks.

Don't burn your tongue tasting them right from the oven...I might, or might not have done that myself.  ;-}

Linked to Scrumptious Sunday
          Weekend Potluck
Ingredient Spotlight - Coffee
Meal Plan Monday

Friday, December 14, 2012

Sour Cream Banana Bread & Weekend Potluck #46



Where I share something worth sharing...again....

This wonderfully moist banana bread quickly becomes a favorite to everyone who tastes it.  It makes several loaves and freezes great too.  Makes an awesome gift to give for the holidays too. 
(click on link below) 

The recipe with the most clicks was ~

Colorful Swirl Cookies
Colorful Swirl Cookies by Walking On Sunshine

Recipes that caught our attention ~

Candy Christmas Lights
Candy Christmas Lights by Kelli’s Retro Kitchen Arts
Basil Garlic Goat Cheese Schmear
Basil Garlic Goat Cheese Schmear by Sumptuous Spoonfuls

And, a personal favorite ~

Chicken Bacon Crescents by Julie's Eats and Treats 

Your hostesses ~

Remember that when you link up, it shows on all SIX blogs. Plus…


Linky Guidelines:

If you wish to be a featured recipe or for us to promote your recipe either on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, you MUST follow these instructions.
  1. Please link up to your exact post and not the main page to your blog.
  2. LINK BACK HERE from your post so that others can find the fun. (Need help linking back? Read this or watch this great instructional video.) You can use the button below or a direct link within your post.
When you are kind enough to follow our guidelines, we work hard to get you as much exposure as possible so that your time here is well invested. We want this to be a fun and rewarding experience for everyone!

Weekend Potluck Linky