Archive | December, 2008

WB Goodie Exchange, Part 1

27 Dec

Even though I’ve been married for almost 5 months now, I still ‘hang out’ on the wedding forum I signed onto when we first got engaged almost 4 years ago. It’s amazing how many brides stay on once they become wives, and I’m no different – it’s like we really know each other. This year, I decided to sign up for the annual goodie exchange and I’m glad I did! The rules were simple; bake a dozen each of three different items, and send them to your buddy before Christmas, along with anything else you wish to send. Thankfully, since it’s a Canadian site, another American signed up, so it seemed evident that we’d be matched up together.

I received Julie’s package from Wisconsin not long after the names were assigned, and E and I were both very excited to open it up. When we opened my package, we were greeted by this:


Inside, we found a very festive card,

A cute fingertip towel and a pretty snowflake ornament for our very first tree,


And in a snowflake container, under the wrapping, we found:


Saltine cookies, Peanut Butter balls and White Bark balls!


So, the final verdict?


Julie was nice enough to send me the recipes, and allow me to share them with you (with her permission, of course!) Tomorrow, I’ll be posting what I sent!

Saltine Toffee Cookies

  • 1 16 0z. box saltine crackers (you won’t need the whole box)
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 cup pecans, finely chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line a cookie sheet with foil.
  2. Arrange crackers snugly in a single layer, filling the sheet completely (about 40 crackers).
  3. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Once melted, add in the brown sugar and mix well.
  4. Pour the butter mixture over the crackers, spreading as necessary.
  5. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the butter mixture is bubbly.
  6. Remove the sheet from the oven and sprinkle the crackers with chocolate chips. When the chips have softened, spread them over the crackers with a knife, decorating with sprinkles of coloured sugar if desired.
  7. Let the cookies cool 5-10 minutes before cutting between the individual cookies with a spatula.
  8. Remove them to a plate, keeping them in a single layer.

Note: If you do not remove them while they are still warm, they will stick to the foil and be difficult to remove once cooled.

Peanut Butter Balls
makes about 43

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup chunky peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 cup dates, chopped
  • 1 cup nuts, chopped
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  1. Mix together the sugar, butters, dates and nuts and form into walnut-sized balls. Refrigerate until firm.
  2. Melt the chips together in a saucepan or a double boiler (adding a bit of oil if necessary to reach desired consistency).
  3. Coat balls, removing with tongs, and place on wax paper. Refrigerate until coating has hardened.

White Bark Balls

  • 2 cups crunchy peanut butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 cups Rice Krispies cereal
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 1/2 lbs. white chocolate bark
  1. Mix the butters, sugar and cereal together in a large bowl. Form into walnut-sized balls and chill until firm.
  2. Melt the bark in the microwave or in a double boiler, as per package instructions. Dip the chilled balls in the melted bark and remove with a pair of tongs.
  3. Place on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper, and allow to rest until set.
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Friday Finds: Archer Farms’ Spicy Southwestern Tamale Pie and Blue Corn with Flaxseed Tortilla Chips

26 Dec

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t always get a fully home-cooked meal on the table every night – sometimes, life just gets ahead of me! I hate the idea of fast food as a runner-up, and I definitely don’t want to serve E something that tastes artificial or bland.

We had picked up several different meal kits at Target a few weeks ago, and soon after, I was in a dinner panic. I looked through the pantry, and picked the Spicy Southwestern Tamale Pie by Archer Farms, their more upscale house brand. Priced under $5 with servings for 4, this is definitely a frugal meal, completely vegetarian andfairly healthy (sodium and carbohydrates aside). It’s also really easy to put together. I also loved that the box is fairly compact, which means it didn’t take up a lot of pantry space.

Inside the kit is three packets: the cornbread topping mix, the beans and the spices.

This is seriously simple: you simmer the beans with the spices in some water for about 15-20 minutes, mix up the cornbread topping (with milk and an egg, I believe), and preheat your over. Once everything’s ready, pour the bean mixture into a 1 1/2 qt. casserole dish, top with the cornbread topping and bake until topping is puffed and brown, which took us about 25-30 minutes. This was really good! The beans had a really hearty, homey taste, were thick, and the mix also contained tomato bits and corn niblets. The cornbread was perfectly cooked, firm and crisp on top, soft on the bottom, and also contained corn niblets. E and I both had this the next day for lunch, and it was just as good – the best part was that the cornbread didn’t get mushy or develop a different texture than it had the night before.

Would I purchase this again? Most definitely. I’d probably add some lemon juice and/or fresh cilantro to the filling the next time to brighten it up a little bit, and while I did sprinkle some cheese between the cornbread and the beans, I would omit that the next time, as you couldn’t taste it one bit.

I served this with my mother-in-law’s fantastic corn and black bean fresh salsa and Archer Farms’ Blue Corn with Flaxseed Tortilla Chips. These are definitely my new favourite tortilla chips! At under $3, they’re affordable and I love that the packaging includes a ziptop to really keep the product fresh. They’re actually pretty, an almost purpley blue, with whole flaxseeds throughout. I also appreciate that they’re not greasy or salty, and that they’re thin enough for that perfect crunch, while thick enough to hold up to any dip. They’d be wonderful for parties.

From Our Home to Yours

25 Dec

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Wordless Wednesday

24 Dec

Eggnog Cookies

23 Dec

Ever since the success of the famous pumpkin cookie, I’ve been on the hunt for a seasonal cookie for Christmas which is just as good, if not better. When I found the Eggnog cookie, I thought I’d hit the mark – even Nog haters love these things!


Apparently, I was wrong; in fact, I may actually be the first person to dislike these, which makes me wonder if I did something wrong. They didn’t spread or puff like I thought they would, so the first batch were perfectly shaped like little scoops of ice cream, and to me, tasted like flour and flour alone. E seemed to like them, and brought them to work the next day for their Christmas potluck (against my better judgment, by the way). Either I need to get my taste buds checked or they got remarkably better the next day, because apparently they were quite the hit! I’ll probably try making these again in a week or so when Eggnog goes further down in price to see if they’re better the second time around.

Eggnog Cookies
adapted from a Mrs. Fields recipe found on Picky Palate
makes 18 cookies

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/4 cups Splenda (or sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup salted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup eggnog
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon nutmeg (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg; mix well with a wire whisk and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream sugar and butter with an electric mixer. Add eggnog, vanilla and egg yolks and beat at medium speed until smooth. Add in dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
  4. Chill dough for 20-30 minutes. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased baking sheets about 1 inch apart. Bake for 23-25 minutes, or until the bottoms of the cookies turn a light brown.
  5. Transfer to a cool, flat surface immediately and sprinkle with remaining nutmeg.