It’s the most wonderful time of the year

22 Dec

With Christmas rapidly approaching (I could’ve sworn there was another week to go) and family already on their way, I want to pause and thank Hod for such an amazing 2012. From new career paths to upcoming career endings, to a two-year-old that is already smarter than me…it has been amazing.

Now don’t worry. I’ll still be cooking and blogging, but the next post won’t be until after Christmas dinner.

So, with that, I wish you and your family the merriest of Christmases!

Christ, Jesus is born!

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Feliz Navidad!

17 Dec

I’m putting off doing my Christmas meal shopping, kind of.  It’s just going to take me actually writing down a list of what I need and then going to the store to get everything.  Until then, however, I still need to feed our family in the days leading up to Christmas.  So, when I went out today, I made sure to grab some tortillas, enchilada sauce, and shredded cheese.  In my prior trips to the grocer I managed to stock up on chicken broth and onions, along with some evaporated milk.  I was set!

Mexican  Chicken Casserole

  • 2 cups cubed, cooked chicken
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 can (10-15 oz) enchilada sauce (mild or hot)
  • 1 can (5 oz) evaporated milk
  • 12 corn tortillas (I bought flour by accident…they taste good but get pretty mushy)
  • 1 lb grated cheese
  • 1 cup chopped green chilies (I wish I had my hatch chilies for this)
  • 1 medium onion chopped

Combine chicken broth with enchilada sauce and milk.  Layer half the tortillas in a 9×13 casserole dish.  Top with chicken, 3/4 cheese, chilies and onions.  Add remaining tortillas and cheese.  Pour sauce mixture over casserole and bake for one hour at 350.   Side note: when you pour the sauce over the top, the cheese tends to “migrate,” so pour slowly!

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Grandma’s Notes: 12/15/91- White frost.  Marcus came home with me after church.  He’s watching football game while I fix lunch.  We ate in front of the TV.  He went to George’s after lunch,  Haley came by- took me to choir practice.  She’s spending the night.  I THANK YOU LORD THAT YOUR FAMILY SPREADS TO MANY PARTS OF THE WORLD.  THANK YOU LORD THAT I AM PART OF IT.

 

Spicing Up the Holidays

16 Dec

I may or may not have mentioned that my husband is getting ready to retire at the end of this year.  With that comes a LOT of celebration!  With celebration comes guests, and with guests come FOOD!  What better way to utilize some of Grandma’s recipes?!  I even volunteered our house to host Christmas dinner.  I may or may not have bitten off more than I can chew.  All I know is that I refuse to wait until the last minute to get things ready.

So, I have planned my menu and begun to shop for our breakfast goodies.  The plan, for Christmas morning, is a hot cocoa and spiced tea bar to go along with a baked oatmeal casserole and a more traditional breakfast casserole.  The cocoa is going to be a crock-pot version I found here, thank you Pinterest!  As for the spiced tea, thank you Grandma!

This is such an easy recipe and one that can be made ahead of time (ahem, like I did today).  Since it’s shelf-stable in a air-tight container, it also makes for a great Christmas gift for the neighbors.  One tip: try to get your ingredients at a big-box store.  As much as I hate to shop at Wal-Mart, it is one of the few places where you can get Tang.

Anyway, I did change this recipe a little.  The original mix called for lemon-flavored tea and TWO cups of sugar.  Now, I don’t know where you grew up, but when Grandma had Tang at her house, I don’t ever remember having to add more sugar when making it.  So, I used unflavored, unsweetened tea and lemonade mix.  I think it gives a more “natural” lemon flavor.  Well, as natural as a powdered concoction can taste.

So, I mixed everything and put them into mason jars this evening.

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Spiced Tea

  • 1 cup unsweetened instant tea
  •  2 cups Tang
  • 1 cup lemonade mix (I used Countrytime)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves

Combine all ingredients and store in jar with lid.  Use 2-4 tsp of mix per mug of hot water.  Side note: this is an UH-Mazing concoction sprinkled over crushed or shaved ice and eaten as-is.

Grandma’s Notes: 11/26/81- Thanksgiving Day; Lance and family, along with George and family were here for a 6:00 P.M. dinner.  Had a good time, a grand meal, and good fellowship.  Called Frank and family about 10:00.  They had celebrated with church friends and had a good day

Chocolate mint chip cookies

14 Dec

When I went shopping for groceries, I wanted to make sure I stocked up on staple baking ingredients. So, I got flour, sugar, chocolate chips, pecans, and the. I splurged and picked up some Andes Mints chips. If you haven’t had or seen them, you are sorely missing out! I remember, every Christmas morning, going through my stocking and loving all he little toys and trinkets; but, I loved that there was always a box of Andes Mints left on the mantle. That meant they were fair game for whomever wanted some. I think I ate most of shared them.

Fast forward to today. I stared blankly at the chips and the recipe found on the back of the package. This just wouldn’t do. I thought the chips needed a good, strong chocolate cookie to match the minty goodness I had grown to love. So, searched online for a good base cookie, but everything I saw was a chocolate chip cookie-like base with…well, with chocolate added. I needed something with more of a cocoa base. Since I didn’t find anything, I decided to just make my own recipe.

Before I give you the recipe, I will give you a couple pointers. This is a very dry recipe, so when you add the dry to wet ingredients, use your hands. It’s the best way to feel how well it’s mixed. These cookies, unlike most, do not expand when in the oven. If you put the dough in a ball shape or flatten it out, it will stay that way. I wasn’t sure how they would bake, and I ended up flattening half of the first batch before they finished baking. Finally, like any baked good, they will continue to bake, even after out of the oven. So, used parchment paper and bake only for the time indicated. The parchment paper will keep them from sticking.

Amber’s Chocolate Mint Cookies
• 1.5 sticks softened butter
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 1/2 cup light brown sugar
• 2 eggs
• 1 tsp vanilla
• 2 & 3/4 cups flour
• 1/4 cup cocoa powder
• 1 tsp baking soda
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 3/4 bag of Andes Mints baking pieces


In a large bowl cream sugars and butter, add eggs and vanilla thoroughly. In another bowl mix dry in ingredients. Add dry to wet ingredients and mix with hands. Add chocolate mint chips well.
On lined cookie sheet, drop rounded (or flattened) spoonfuls about and inch apart. Bake at 375* for 8.5 minutes. Allow to cool approx 2 minted before transferring to cooling rack.

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You can see the difference in the rounded cookies vs. the flattened ones. They both tasted amazing. Just ask my two-year-old that ate three as soon as he woke from his nap!

It’s beginning to smell a lot like Christmas

13 Dec

Things are beginning to really look, and smell, like Christmas around here. From the last post, mincemeat cake, to the tree being up, we are ready to celebrate the season!

I found lots of Pinterest ideas for scenting the house and decided that I would come up with my own. Enjoy!

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Spicy Orange Simmer
• 4 juicing oranges, quartered
• Two “healthy” dashes of cinnamon
• 1 TBSP whole cloves

Put into medium sauce pot all ingredients, cover with water. Simmer on low. Add water as it dissipates.

Amber’s Notes: I love Christmas time. The scents, the lights, the snow great weather. In it all, remember the real reason for the season! Christ, the Savior, is born!

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Mincemeat Cake

9 Dec

So, it felt great to get back to the store to shop today.  I never thought I would enjoy shopping, but I did.  I went with my list and made sure I re-upped my staples (sugar, flour, eggs, milk, chocolate chips, etc.)  What I didn’t do was take my cookbook with me to make sure I had all the random ingredients for specific recipes.  Needless to say, I had a small panic attack was able to calmly decide what to make when I realized I didn’t have any enchilada sauce, tortillas, or powdered sugar (not the same recipes).

So, I went back to the pantry and looked at what I had available: fig preserves, pear mincemeat from this post, and other various pantry staples.   I remembered a recipe, back in May, that called for mincemeat.  That would have to do.  I also had all the other ingredients.

I was excited to be able to use a preserved item that I preserved myself.  I even had to use a knife to unseal the lid, it was THAT well-sealed!  I remember having to do that when opening my grandmother’s preserves and jams.  I guess I did it right?!  And when I added it to the mix, i had to taste the concoction (since it had been January since I made it)…umm…YUM!

Anyway, the cake is fairly simple and the mincemeat could easily be substituted with other fruit preserves.  I think fig would probably work well. *note: I have not tried it with other preserves or jams, so I can not attest to the consistency of a cake made with them.

This cake was a fairly wet mix and I had a hunch that the baking time would need to be increased.  I was right.  I tested the center of the cake at the end of the stated time and needed to increase the time 5 minutes TWICE.  I also used a ceramic corningware dish.  It calls for a 13x9x2 pan with no specificity of the kind, but I’m sure it was supposed to be an actual metal pan.  However, the result was DELISH!

Enjoy!

Mincemeat Cake

  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup homemade mincemeat (I used pear mincemeat)
  • 1 cup milk, or buttermilk
  • 1 tsp soda
  • 2 cups flour
  • pinch of salt

Beat together sugar, butter, and eggs.  Add mincemeat.  Mix soda in milk; add  to creamed mixture alternately with flour and salt.  Pour into 13x9x2 pan.  Bake at 375* for about 20 minutes (test center to determine done-ness).  Top with recipe below

Topping

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 TBSP grated orange peel
  • 2 TBSP orange juice
  • 1.3 cup coconut (or nuts) I used 1/6 coconut & 1/6 pecan
  • 2 TBSP softened butter

Mix together all ingredients and pour on top of warm cake.  Broil in oven until top of cake is bubbly

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Grandma’s Notes: 5/27/95- Lance and Marcus came; Marcus plowed the garden.  6/4/95- Church service was good.  When we think about it, how terrible life would be without love.  Barry Monroe was at church with Haley.  Went home and finished book.  I think I’ll read it again.  Started reading; then to bed.

Home again…

30 Nov

I am on my way home from a 13-wk job in Texas. I will guarantee recipes will be done for the holidays. Thanks to the followers that have kept up with me, even though I wasn’t cooking!

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