Sunday, December 22, 2013

3-layer bars

These are from the Frank family and are my hubby's favorites. These are time consuming, only because you have to keep waiting for things to chill. This is a good one to do in steps and make other simple cookies in between steps.

Mix together in a bowl:
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup finely chopped coconut ( Bakers flaked coconut works well)
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
Mix together in a double boiler:
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter (don't substitute)
1 egg, slightly beaten
Cream butter, sugar and egg.  Cook in double boiler until egg is cooked and slightly thick (5-6 minutes).  Pour over crumb mixture.  Mix well and press into a greased 9"X 13" pan to form first layer.  Chill for an hour or so.
Mix together:
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter softened (don't substitute)
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Spread on crumb layer.  Chill again until powdered sugar layer is firm.
7  Hershey bars (I usually use milk chocolate chips) (original recipe called for 5 cent Hershey bars) and spread over powdered sugar layer.  Chill and cut into squares.  Store in refrigerator.


This is a Carson family recipe and is a favorite of just about EVERYONE that ever tries them. Basically it is a homemade version of Reese's  PB cups. And really - can that ever be bad?

Warning, the original recipe makes a TON. I always half this recipe.

2 lb Peanut Butter
1 lb Butter
3 lb Powdered Sugar

2 bags semi-sweet Chocolate Chips
1 stick paraffin

1. Line cookie sheets with wax paper. I like to use 2-3 smaller sheets instead of one large. Comes in handy when dipping.
2. Melt butter. Mix with Peanut Butter and Powdered Sugar. Form into balls. Place on cookie sheets. Refrigerate overnight (or 2 hours).
3. Use a double boiler and melt chips and paraffin.  Dip each ball into chocolate mixture (I use a spoon as my candy dipper broke and I have yet to replace it)- covering 3/4 of each ball. (you can also just cover the whole ball, it just won't look like a buckeye.) Return to wax paper. Refrigerate. I take one sheet out at a time to keep balls chilled as long as possible.

The amount of chocolate always seems to be too much for just this recipe, but works great if you are combining with the Coconut Indulgences and 3-layer bars.

If you are wondering why these are called buckeyes - it is because they look like the nut from a buckeye tree. But really, most regions have no idea what a buckeye tree looks like. Here is a little info. See, you do learn new things every day. :)

And, if you missed it, I have also used this recipe at Halloween time to make eyeballs. Always a big hit.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Coconut Indulgences

This recipe if from the Frank family - but has become one of MY favorites. No one else really likes coconut like I do - so I must be REALLY careful when making these. I try to give a lot of them away - although at times it feels like I am giving away a child. Ok, maybe not the separation is not THAT bad, but I really do love these.

5 ounces condensed milk
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (14-ounce) package sweetened flaked coconut
3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
In a large bowl, combine the condensed milk, powdered sugar and vanilla extract.  Stir well until thoroughly incorporated and smooth.  add the coconut and stir well to combine.
With a tablespoon, scoop out portions of the candy mixture onto a a baking sheet.  With wet hands, roll the candies into rounds.  Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
In the top of a double boiler or metal bowl set over a pot of simmering water, melt the chocolate chips.  Dip the coconut balls into the chocolate and roll to coat completely.  Shake off the excess chocolate and place on a rack set over a baking sheet lined with waxed paper.  Let air dry or refrigerate to harden.  store in a cool place.
Note:  You can add a 1/4 to 1/2 bar of paraffin wax to the chocolate to make the dipping easier and the candies shiny. 

I make all the buckeyes and these beauties and just do one round of dipping. This year, once I was done dipping, I added a bag of milk chips to the left over chocolate and used that on top of the 3-layer bars. Yes, I am all about conserving energy and supplies - but it is more about doing fewer dishes.

Christmas Baking

The holiday season, aka the season of eating LOTS of junk food and gaining LOTS of weight. We don't have any family close by, sometimes we are with family for Christmas (which requires a lot of travel for at least one family) and sometimes we are on our own. Either way, I always bake all of our favorite cookies, candies, bars, etc since there is no one else really to do it.

How to STOP eating everything?

Well, I don't really know. BUT, I do have a few strategies that at least help.
1. Give half of everything to other friends or the teachers at school. If my butt is going to get bigger, everyone else's will as well. :)
2. I then freeze half of what is left to save for Christmas. The remainder can be eaten immediately.
3. Don't keep everything out in plain sight - use containers. I tend to eat less if it is out of sight.

I will be making posts of all the treats I have been making - so I don't have to search for my recipes anymore. Since we moved (in January) I have yet to find my recipe box. So, I will be cataloging all of our family favorites here.  If you are trying to avoid sugar - you may want to skip the next several posts.

I tried a new cut out cookie and ginger cookie recipe. Both turned out fine, but I will cut back a little on the flour next time, I like mine a little softer. But, I measure flour all wrong, so the amount may be accurate. I need to cut back on the scoop, shack, and dump method - it's just soooo much easier (as long as I adjust accordingly, things usually turn out just fine).

You will notice a few themes emerge.
1. I like chocolate.
2. The majority of my Christmas baking, doesn't actually involve baking.
3. I am all about minimizing effort and mess and therefore combine efforts whenever possible. I do all dipping at one time. Any leftovers are used to coat or top other bars.
4. On the lines of minimizing the mess, I always line my 9x13 pans with foil. Seriously makes cutting MUCH easier and leaves the pans easy to wash. YEAH!

And, once done with all these goodies, I will have some major exercising to do.

How do you manage all the holiday goodies?

Friday, December 20, 2013

Thread Sketching Love

I am totally in love with thread sketching. I guess I am a few years behind the times, but I don't really care. I saw this tutorial on Pinterest and thought - I MUST try this! So I did. These are the 3 pillows I have made to date, with several more planned. I have also done a few kitchen towels and napkins. Ohhh the possibilities. I have started a Pinterest board for thread sketching ideas. There will be MANY more pins over the next few months.

Most of my sketching is simply done with straight forward stitching and a TON of fabric turning. I have JUST started to try true free motion for this technique. Let's just say it is a learning process. I think it works well for some designs and not so well for others. But really, free motion has a large learning curve, so I won't know until I have a LOT more practice.

For me, this has been a great way to express my artistic side through sewing. It may really just show I am not that artistic. :) Oh well, I don't care. I like it and I plan to continue doing it. So, if you happen to receive one of these projects as a gift, please humor me and tell me you like it.

Have you ever tried thread sketching? What do you think?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


I LOVE peaches! This summer I did a bit of canning and have a few jars of peaches just waiting to be used. Most will be used right out of the jar - because really, there just isn't much better than a simple peach. When canning, I used very little sugar so they taste pretty fresh. And, they will have fewer calories. YEAH!

I love having a little bit of summer in the winter - don't you?

Peach jam was also made - low sugar of course. Peaches are sweat enough on their own, my jam didn't need much sugar. It tastes more like fresh peaches. Add it to some toast or biscuits - YUM!
I simply used the Ball website and followed their recipes/directions using their low-sugar pectin. I used about 1/4c sugar in my version.

I have found that I like peach crisp. I never really did, as I haven't like the taste of cooked peaches. Apparently my tastes have changed, because I like them now. One great use for those canned peaches. For the crisp topping, I use oatmeal and whole wheat flour to help offset the butter and sugar. I consider this one of my semi-healthy desserts. I simply took my favorite crisp recipe and substituted the oatmeal and whole wheat flour in place of the white flour. The amounts of each don't really matter (mine varies based on what I have on hand) - so long as the overall amount is the same as the original recipe.

I added a LITTLE ice cream here, but you can skip that. Portion control is key here - make sure to share with lots of friends so you don't eat it all.

So there you have it. A little summer brightness in the middle of a gloomy winter. Do you love a little of summer freshness during the winter as much as I do?

Later gators...