Monday, December 15, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Monday...Baked Ham w/mashed potatoes
Tuesday...Tacos & refried beans
Wednesday...Spaghetti w/meatballs
Thursday... Crockpot Beef Stew w/homemade bread
Friday...Chicken & Rice Stir Fry
Saturday...Cheesy Sausage, Egg & Potato Casserole
Sunday...Grilled Cheese & Potato soup

Check out more menus over at

Friday, December 12, 2008

Virtual Cookie Swap--Sugar Cookies

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup softened butter
1 t vanilla
1/2 t almond extract
1 egg
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 t baking soda

colored sugar or icing for decorating!!!

cream together butter and powdered sugar, beat with mixer at low speed until fluffy. Add egg & flavorings. Mix flour & baking soda together in a separate bowl & then stir into the butter mixture. Form dough into log, wrap in wax paper & refrigerate at least 2 hrs.

Cut dough into two sections & roll out 1/4 inch thick. Cut out with cookie cutters. Sprinkle with sugar or colored sugar decorations (skip this if you plan to frost them).
bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 375 for 7-8 minutes or until edges are just starting to brown. Remove from cookie sheet immediately. Let them cool completely before frosting.

Makes about 4 dozen 2 inch cookies.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Slow Cooking Thursday---Beef Stew

I LOVE doing daily themes. I saw a reference to Slow Cooking Thursday on this weeks Menu Plan Menu & was sooo excited to join in.

The crockpot is one of my best friends in the kitchen. I don't always use it to cook entire meals. This recipe is cooked in stages, but eventually it does all end up in the crockpot.

2 lbs stew meat or 2 lb roast cut into cubes (whichever is cheaper)
2 cups frozen carrots
6-8 medium potatoes
2 T vegetable oil or shortening
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup minced garlic
32 oz Beef Broth (I like Swanson's, but cheapest is fine)
26 oz Swanson Beef Cooking Stock
salt & pepper
flour or corn starch for thickening

Heat 2 T oil in large frying pan, add 1/4 cup minced garlic. Let the garlic start to brown, then add meat. Brown meat on all sides, season with salt & pepper, transfer to crockpot. Add chopped celery to frying pan & brown in any remaining oil, add 2 cups Beef Broth & bring to a boil, boil for 3 minutes, then pour into crockpot. Add 2 cups frozen carrots and all of Cooking Stock.....put the remaining 2cups of beef broth in the refrigerator for later. Turn crockpot on low. Peel & cube potatoes, rinse in cold water then add to crockpot. Switch crockpot to High & cook for at least 4 hrs without removing lid. Can also be cooked on low for 7-8 hours.

In a saucepan, heat remaining beef broth to a boil. Mix together 1 cup water & 1/4 cup flour or corn starch in a cup. Slowly add the flour mixture to the boiling broth, stir continuously. Boil at least one minute, add thickened broth to crockpot & stir thoroughly. Turn crockpot to low & cook an additional 30 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Nut Breads for Christmas

For today's Tackle it Tuesday, I'm finally making my pumpkin bread, from the pumpkin puree I made a few weeks ago. Luckily for me, pumpkin stores well in the fridge. I'm using the recipe from my post over on Large Family Cooking.

I've also posted a Cranberry nut bread recipe & a Banana nut bread recipe in the last week. I just LOVE to make nut bread in the weeks before and after Christmas. It is almost as yummy as cookies!! Mini nutbreads also make GREAT gifts for teachers, coworkers, even the mailman. If a small gift is needed, one mini loaf fits that perfectly. If a bigger gift is called for you can give a variety of 3 or 4 different kinds of mini loaves or even add a mini loaf as a center piece to a cookie tray.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Monday...Pork chops, stuffing & green beans



Friday...Scalloped potatoes w/Ham

Sunday...Roast Beef & Mashed potatoes
Check out everyone else's plans for the week at

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Cinnamon Rolls

Something about December makes me want to bake every day. On Sunday, I made cinnamon rolls. Sorry, no pictures, but here's the recipe. They were really good, so I'm sure I'll be making more soon & I'll get pictures.


1 package yeast (2 1/4 t)
1/2 cup very warm water
1/2 cup scalded milk (cooled)
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter
1 t salt
1 egg
3 1/2 to 4 cups of flour

1 stick softened butter (1/2 cup)
1 cup brown sugar
2 T cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

In a large glass bowl, combine the yeast, sugar, water and milk. Stir until yeast & sugar are dissolved. Add butter, salt & egg. Add two cups of flour & mix until smooth. Slowly add additional flour until dough is smooth & elastic. Cover with kitchen towel & allow to rise in a warm place until double in size. Punch down, knead on floured surface, sprinkling any sticky parts with flour. Roll out to 1/8 inch thickness in a rectangle shape.

Spread softened butter on dough. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly. Sprinkle cinnamon. Add raisins &/or nuts if desired.

Roll the dough tightly starting on the longest edge. Slice dough into 1 inch segments and place in greased baking pan. Leave at least 1 inch all the way around each segment. Cover pan & allow to rise again until segments are touching. Bake at 375 for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Rub butter over tops immediately after removing from oven. Allow to cool on wire rack for at least 15 minutes before serving to avoid burns. Icing or glaze can be applied after the initial cooling phase.


Tamales are a traditional Mexican food served at Christmas. They are one of those perfect foods that almost everybody likes. They are easy to reheat, easy to eat & very portable. They are a bit labor intensive to make, but very worth the effort. I've also been told they freeze well, but there are never any left to freeze when I make them, my family gobbles them up immediately.

Start with

And (This is shredded pork, but you can also use shredded beef or chicken.) I cook the meat in my crockpot until it is falling off the bones, then let it cool in the fridge for a couple hours (or overnight). Remove as much grease from the cooled meat as possible, then shred it either with your hands or using two forks to pull it apart. Add about 1/2 can of enchilada sauce for flavoring. Keep the broth for use in making the dough.

You will need a pot like this with a steamer insert

To prepare the dough, combine 3 cups Masa, 1/2 t salt & 1 t baking powder. Add 2/3 cup shortening and cut in like making biscuits. When it is crumbly, add 2 cups either broth from the meat or canned chicken broth. I add about 1/2 can of enchilada sauce to the broth & heat it ahead of time. Mix the liquid into the dry until the dough becomes spongy. Let sit for a few minutes.Put about this much masa on a soaked & rinsed corn husk (soak corn husks in HOT water for about 30 minutes, then rinse thoroughly & remove any corn silks)
Flatten it out
Put a small amount of meat all down the center
Fold over the corn husk

Fold the husk back open
Fold the other side closed, fold the ends in, then roll up

Stack on end in steamer pot
Steam at low heat for an hour, then take them out & let them sit for at least 2 hrs to cool before eating or packaging up for later.