Christmas has ended but a New year will begin.

christmas-tree-2

hard to believe Christmas has come and gone, and now we wait to celebrate the New Year.  The last few months has been a busy time for Chris and I. We recently bought a house of our dreams, and got to celebrate our first Christmas in our new home. We wanted to get to know our new neighbors and welcome them in our new home. Chris and I made gift bags for each neighbor along with a get to know us letter. I of course did some baking to share with them, and one Sunday morning we walked to each house and introduced ourselves to them. Chris and I were thrilled to meet most of our neighbors, and invited them to an open house the following weekend. It was a success for sure and we truly enjoyed everyone. Chris and I were thrilled to meet them and feel blessed to live where we live now.

Of course we had to have our little niece stay over that night, and it was her first night over in our new house. Chris bought her a cute reindeer made out of wood to put together and paint, and then we all made a gingerbread house with her. I love doing crafts with her when she is with us . claire-and-chris-making-gingerbread-house-2

I usually like to make Christmas gifts for my friends and family, but this year I did not have a lot of time to do so, instead I baked away for everyone. I decided to make some gift boxes of baked goods and then a little package of Teriyaki Jerky that my husband made. My boxes were a hit because all I could see was smiles. I love doing that stuff and seeing people smile it is a gift to me knowing that I did my job to make someone smile. In my gifts I made red velvet whoopee cakes, Peppermint Rice crispy treats, Bourbon balls. Just the simplest things are more than anything.

Of course I had to make my famous Sugar Cookies for my workers  cookie exchange party.  These are not just any sugar cookies they are the kind that melt in your mouth and are so light they are absolutely amazing.  I actually learned how to make these from a woman named Jenny Keller when I lived in Washington state. Please check out her website and Blog Jennycookies,   and her new website Jennycookies bakeshop.  I would give  the recipe out, but I think this one I will have to keep a secret.sugar-cookies-roses-2

Besides doing all the baking, for Christmas one of my nieces had mentioned that since the whole family was gathering for Christmas we should all wear Pajamas. I actually thought that would be a fun and cool idea so I was totally in. After hearing that the whole family was in on this idea I thought why not get the whole family together in a photo shoot. It has been a long time since we had a family photo, and our family is growing . I wanted to do this so I can get the photos  copied and give to my family members as memorabilia.

This holiday has come and gone, but I have to say it was a fun time with family and friends. I certainly enjoyed everything this season, and I hope next year we can do this again.

Bourbon Balls Recipe

Ingredients

1          box (12 oz) vanilla wafer cookies, finely crushed
1          cup chopped pecans or walnuts
3/4      cup powdered sugar
2          tablespoons unsweetened baking cocoa
1/2      cup bourbon
2 1/2   tablespoons light corn syrup
Additional powdered sugar

Directions

  • 1 In large bowl, mix cookie crumbs, pecans, 3/4 cup powdered sugar and the cocoa, stirring well.
  • 2 In small bowl, mix bourbon and corn syrup, stirring until blended. Pour bourbon mixture over cookie mixture; stir until blended. Shape into 1-inch balls; roll in additional powdered sugar. Store tightly covered at room temperature up to 2 weeks

Red Velvet Whoopee Pies

Ingredients

  • 1 (18.5-oz) box red velvet cake mix
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (or see Note)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 (3.9-oz) box instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 1 (16-oz) can cream cheese frosting

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Combine cake mix, buttermilk, oil, eggs, and pudding mix in a large bowl. Mix on low speed with an electric mixer until ingredients are just blended, then on high 1 minute.
  • Drop batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake 13 to 15 minutes or until set.
  • Let cookies cool 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the frosting:

  • 2 cups of imperial margarine
  • 2 tsp of clear vanilla
  • 5 table spoons of coffee creamer I usually get sweet cream creamer
  • 2 lbs of C&H Powdered sugar

Directions:

Blend the Margarine together with the vanilla, and Creamer once that is mixed well then add the powder sugar by cups one at a time. If the Consistency is still not stiff enough I usually add more powder sugar to get it fluffy.

Note: Make your own buttermilk by blending 1/2 cup milk and 1 1/2 tsp vinegar or lemon juice.

You can also get my Peppermint Oreo Cookie Rice Crispy treats recipe from one of my latest blogs the red velvet Oreo cookie white chocolate Rice Crispy treats by clicking onto the link.

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A Short Christmas Story about a Chair

rocking-chair

I want to say it certainly has been a long time since my last posting and I truly apologize. My Husband and I have had a lot of things going on in our lives for the past several months. We have been busy with family, along with searching for our new home, moving, and the holidays. I finally am able to get back into my Blog and share my ideas. This blog is a little different from all the other Blogs I have shared and it is special to me. I want to share about a old rocking chair that has been in my family for many years for at least 45 years.

My parents bought this as a piece of furniture for their house, but the big reason why it is so special is that my parents rocked each one of us  children to sleep when we were  new born, or when we were so sick we could not sleep. At one point it was given to my aunt when my parents split, that I was not sure if I would ever see it again. My aunt had called me up one day and told me she still had it and wanted to know if I wanted it back. I certainly did because I loved that chair, and it had so many great memories for me.

When I had received the rocking chair It was still in good condition just had one arm handle a little loose, but I knew I could fix it up as good as new. The chair had several painted details on it that let’s just say was stuck in the 70’s so I stripped it down and refinished it a matte black. I admit I never have refinished something old to something new. Once it was done I sat in that chair and rocked away remembering all the memories from childhood. The one special memory I wanted to share was Santa holding my sister Melissa.

I was nine years old when my mother came across a newspaper article that said, “write to Santa and they will share your letter in the newspaper.” Well I was wanting to do it for my sister Melissa because she loved Santa Claus and she couldn’t do it herself because she had cerebral palsy a condition where she could not walk or talk. The only problem was I had just turned nine and the age cut off was 8. I still told my mom that I wanted to do it anyway and I will explain that I was writing on behalf of my sister and that she couldn’t do it herself. My dear mother helped me out with the letter and I sent it off in hopes they would read it.

One day  I was at home when my mother got a phone call. I sat there listening to her talk on the phone thanking whoever it was with a big smile on her face and tears of happiness. I thought to myself who is it she talking to and what is going on. When my mom got off the phone she pulled me to the side and whispered to me and said,” Charlena that was the local newspaper they got your letter.” I was thrilled until she told me they could not publish my letter in the newspaper because of my age, but they had  something even better they wanted to do for Melissa. She then said to me,” Charlena they loved your letter so much that they wanted to do something special for Melissa they want to send Santa Claus out to our house to see her!” I couldn’t believe it is this for real. We lived up in the mountains and around that time that Santa was coming out we ended up getting snow. I was so worried they would not show up due to the snow keeping them from not making it up the step hill we lived on. I just got home from school, and Melissa still had not gotten home from  the special school she went to. Her bus driver knew about the surprise and was trying really hard to get up that hill and she did it. We had gotten Melissa inside just in time because all of a sudden we heard honking and it was Santa Coming up our drive way in the snow in a tiny Datsun. Mom and I were looking out the kitchen window and seen the car coming up. We then ran into the living room where Melissa was and opened the front door. Melissa’s eyes were showing that she was confused and was wondering what is going on with mom and I. Mom and I saw Santa coming out of the car and start to walk up the Wheel chair ramp that we had for Melissa’s chair, but poor Santa slipped and started to slide down the ramp backwards saying Ho Ho Hooooooo! The most funniest thing ever, yet we both freaked out because we did not want him to get hurt. I then turned around and looked at my sisters face with the biggest smile, and getting all excited it was just great to see that reaction. Santa walked in and all I could remember is her smile, her excitement, it was certainly the best feeling to me that could warm the heart. Santa was there for Melissa for a good hour, and I will never forget that, but where am I going with the Chair well Santa sat there in the chair with Melissa holding her and talking to her.

One of my most fondest memory is this one, and every year I think of this moment in her life and in mine the best thing I had ever done for her. This rocking chair I have kept have seen a baby smile, sleep, be sick, and happiest moments hard to believe a piece a furniture holds those memories. The last memory I have is my mom, my cousin Jodi and I holding Melissa and rocking her to sleep the day before she passed away. Melissa ended up getting sick and was going back and forth to the hospital when she finally was released she still was under the weather, but no one could figure out what was going on. My last memory is not a sad one so please do not think this is sad, but holding her in my arms and rocking her and humming you are my sunshine to her I could see her smile at me while closing her eyes to sleep. It was a smile of love and peacefulness to me. She certainly was a beautiful little girl.

Melissa had passed away on February 16th 1984 the hardest time in all of our lives, but no matter what I hold on to this rocking chair because it reminds me of all the good memories of our family, and my sister Melissa the angel that was sent into all our lives. If you have ever seen the movie, ‘It’s a wonderful life” and the ending when the little girl says, ” look daddy every time a bell rings an angel gets it’s wings.” My favorite saying of all times and I truly believe.

Remember Christmas is not about presents, and food, and Santa it truly is about life, memories, family and friends. Merry Christmas Eve to all and to all a good night.

Sweet Potato Crust Quiche

sweet potato quiche

 

Sometimes you have to say to yourself,” I have to do what meal prep for the week?”  Yes meal prep for the week helps give you more  time in the week to do other stuff then cook everyday.  My husband and I are always on the go, and of course have such odd work schedules that early in the mornings we really do not have time to make breakfast before we head out the door. Sometimes we make an  egg sandwich and take that to work with us, or a piece of toast with peanut butter and honey.I get bored with that same old routine  and decided to make a change.  One day I came across this awesome video that I thought this would be great to make ahead of time for our hectic work schedules  !  Not only is this a twist to a quiche, but I wanted to add some stuff to it to make it filling. The Crust is not just a crust it is sliced sweet potatoes stacked all around the inside of the  pie pan. At first I thought this does not sound so good, but it certainly is a hit in my house.

 

I have been trying so hard to cut out the breads and the refine sugar since I realize this can be a health problem for  me and  my husband, so when I saw this video on you tube I was telling myself have to try this out. Here is the link to the video  sweet potato quiche. 

The twist to my quiche is that instead of adding milk I added heavy cream to make the quiche more fluffy.  I like a lot more flavor to my food, and I noticed that there really was not a lot of added flavor to it, so I added some spices to mine, and also some meat.  The feta cheese part that is added in the quiche  you can use goat cheese, and ricotta cheese in replace they still give the quiche a great taste.  I myself  have made this with goat Cheese, and Ricotta Cheese since I was out of Feta and it  still turned out great.

The Spinach and onion part to the mix I actually used sweet onion for my quiche and the reason why was to give the sweet potato crust even more sweetness to really bring that out since when you cook down the sweet potatoes they tend to loose a little of that sweetness.

For the Crust I followed the Video, but realized you could just Food Process the sweet potatoes down, spread it out in the Pie crust plate and that would look more like a crust .

This dish is simple and different, a big keeper in our house, and so I hope you see this and try it out for yourself Please give me feed back if you liked it or not.

Happy Eating !

 

Sweet Potato Quiche

2 medium sweet potatoes

1 bag of spinach

1/2 sweet onion

sausage meat  spicy and sweet

4 eggs

1 cup of heavy cream

2 tsp of Cayenne Pepper

1 tsp of pepper

1 tsp of Grand Masala

1 tsp of Mrs. Dash

2 Cloves are Garlic minced

Feta ( if not Feta then Goat Cheese, or Ricotta)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°, then peel and slice sweet potatoes. I sliced mine using a mandolin, but a knife works great as well. The mandolin speeds up the process significantly and gives you even slices. Coat a pie dish with cooking spray, then fill the bottom of the dish with a layer of sweet potato slices. Cut the sweet potato rounds in half and fill around the edges of the pie dish; round side facing up. Once the entire dish is filled, coat one more time with cooking spray. Bake for 20 minutes. Turn heat up to 375°.

2. For the filling, heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add spinach; and the sweet onion sauté for 5 minutes or until the spinach has wilted  minutes. Remove from heat; cool.

3. Combine heavy cream  and next 5 ingredients in a bowl; stir with a whisk. Arrange spinach mixture in crust; pour egg mixture over spinach. Sprinkle with feta. Bake at 375° for 35 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes; cut into 4 wedges

 

 

 

 

It’s The Great Pumpkin Cookies Charlie Brown!

Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Butter icing 2

I love the month of October when you see the leaves turning colors, and the air so crisp.You start to see  when all those wonderful fall flavors come out at the Coffee shops from Pumpkin spice Latte’s to Peppermint mocha’s yummy. I have a confession to make I have to watch my favorite holiday show ” The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.” It just gives me the warm fuzzies when I was a little girl. You had to wait for it to come out on t.v. because back then the VCR or DVD players were not invented. Now I have it on the DVD and just love to watch it this time of the year. October is my favorite month from being spooked by scary movies, to making almost everything pumpkin. This time I thought I would share my pumpkin cookies

Now these cookies are so soft and just melt in your mouth it is ridiculous. Adding a little touch to it makes it more comforting when you add Brown butter frosting on top with some nutmeg and cinnamon sugar.  Now it is time to make a cup of hot Chocolate, grab a couple of my pumpkin cookies and sit back and start my favorite movie , “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!”.

Ingredients:

2 cups butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 15-ounce can pumpkin
4 cups all-purpose flour

Frosting
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 to 4 cups powdered sugar (add until desired consistency/firmness)
ground cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar on top

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl beat the 2 cups of butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar, baking powder,baking soda,salt,the 1 teaspoon cinnamon,and the nutmeg. Beat until combined. Beat in the eggs and 2 teaspoons of vanilla until combined. Beat in pumpkin. Beat in as much of the four as you can with the mixer. Stir in remaining flour with a wooden spoon.

2. Drop dough by heaping teaspoons 2 inches apart on un-greased cookie sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until tops are set. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

3. For frosting, in a small saucepan heat the 1/2 cup butter and brown sugar until melted and smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl. Stir in milk and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Beat in powdered sugar until smooth. Spread frosting on cookies. Sprinkle with nutmeg not to much you will over power the flavor. Add some Cinnamon and sugar.