Friday, December 30, 2011

Chocolate Pudding Shot Cupcakes!


Here it is! The chocolate pudding shot cupcake.
I made a dark chocolate cupcake and pumped it full of the intoxicating mixture, with a swirl of whipped cream, sprinkled with shaved dark chocolate and topped it with a sparkly white chocolate firework design.   
These cupcakes are going to a New Year's eve party tomorrow. I like chocolate cake, pudding, whipped cream but not the alcohol in it. I will have to leave it up to the guests at the party to be the judge of this cupcake! Besides, one of these in ME would probably leave me three sheets in the wind!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

My Little Chefs!

This is my youngest daughter Sarah, she had just made spinach artichoke dip. I love the fact that my girls know how to cook. I mean really cook, using fresh ingredients and actually creating something with them. My oldest daughter Jennica is a great cook and only getting better. Jennica has actually made puff pastry! She made a cheese danish with the puff pastry and it was the most delicious and most beautiful cheese danish I have ever seen. Jennica is now talking about making beef wellington!  Sarah, is just starting to get the cooking bug. Everything she has made so far has been very, very good. The spinach artichoke dip that she made was delicious.  Here is a recipe for spinach artichoke dip that I have made before: 
This is the cheese danish that Jennica made with home made puff pastry!
This is a great recipe that I will definitely use again. I love the cannellini beans added into it for the extra nutritional value and I used fat free cream cheese. So, this dip has a lot of good for you ingredients in it! Pair with your own baked whole wheat pita chips and it's perfecto!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

It is Christmas every time you let God love others through you...yes, it is Christmas every time you smile at your brother and offer him your hand.
--Mother Teresa

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve...

Christmas eve.... it's finally here. I've been counting down the days since September. The days sure did go by fast.
Happy Christmas eve and merry Christmas to all. Enjoy the moment and make memories!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Baking Gingerbread Cookies

Last night I made the recipe for gingerbread cookies from .
What a great recipe! You know, every recipe I have tried out (so far) from this sight has been great.  The mini gingerbread cookies are going on gingerbread cupcakes for an order that I have and the larger gingerbread cookies are going to a coworker for her kids. I'm always looking for a home for the cookies that I bake and hers is perfect for that. I'm pretty sure that her kids know me as the "cookie lady".
I used raisins for the eyes, slices of candied cherries for the mouth and cinnamon red hots for the buttons.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Making Mini Cheeseballs & Pecan Pie & Kisses Macaroon Cookies

This is all going to my husband's Christmas party at work tomorrow. I spent most of the day shopping with my daughter Sarah and I didn't have much time left in this day to make things that were labor intensive so I looked online for easy recipes. The mini cheese ball recipe ( was a cinch and very good. I don't know why I never thought of making mini ones before! I think  they look better than a single, round ball of cheese on a platter.

I have never made pecan pie before in my life until this past weekend. I found this recipe for pecan pie at My daughter Jennica took it to her boyfriends house (he's a huge fan of pecan pie).  They loved it. So, I made another one! The recipe is super simple. 

The pecan pie

The mini cheese balls. When my daughter Sarah looked at this picture she told me that they look like meatballs... I had to laugh because they kind of do in this picture.

The  recipe for the macaroon cookies is on the Hershey's web site. I love anything that has cream cheese in it.  This recipe is a keeper. The cookie is moist, chewy and just sweet enough with the Hershey kiss on top.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Good Times In Jefferson, Ohio

Last night my husband and I went to a Christmas party at Tuxie's Sub and Arcade Shop in Jefferson. The daughter of our neighbors, her name is Emily (she works there), invited us to go.  We had a great time. The owners of Tuxie's opened up their business to their employees and their family and friends. There was a plenitude of conversation and laughter, a six foot sub to devour, a smorgasbord of ice cream, a white elephant gift exchange and the bells on the pinball machines were dinging the whole evening. I felt the abundance of friends, family, and the sense of community in the room the entire evening.

Thank you to Tuxie's Sub Shop and to Emily!


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sunday Morning Breakfast

Mixing and kneading  the ingredients
This morning I made this recipe from /
The recipe doesn't call for a cinnamon,sugar and butter filling, just  cinnamon. The reason for that is to keep the cinnamon roll moist for longer. According to the recipe page sugar is hygroscopic; it attracts water and will pull the moister out of the roll. Plus, without the added sugar and butter it has less calories and fat. BONUS!
The finished dough

The first rising. I like to warm my convection oven for a few minutes before I put the dough in.

I put my dough slices into cupcake liners.

The finished product.

Perfect timing! Just as I pulled the finished cinnamon buns out of the oven there was a knock at my was my wonderful neighbors Nick and Lorie. They surprised my husband and I with just out of  the oven, homemade, broccoli and cheddar cheese quiche that was scrumptious! It made my heart and my belly smile.
The cinnamon buns were delicious too.


Yes! This is what I'm talking about...  I love it!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas themed cupcakes for a party tomorrow....WOOHOO it's almost Christmas!!

I had a lot of fun making these today! Starting on the left is an eggnog cupcake that I got the recipe at
They taste just like eggnog!
I filled with it with vanilla pudding and iced it with fluffy cream cheese frosting, sprinkled some nutmeg on it and garnished the top with a cinnamon stick. 

In the middle is a gingerbread cupcake that I got the recipe from
I filled it with bavarian creme and iced it with orange buttercream frosting and topped it with a gingerbread cookie and holly shaped sprinkles 

On the right, a chocolate cupcake that I got the recipe from
It's a great recipe and very moist. I iced the cupcake with buttercream frosting and topped it with a chocolate star and red and green sprinkles.

I made these for my neighbors Christmas party tomorrow. I really do think that they are the nicest people ever! I hope that they like them...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Day 4 of my Christmas baking: Triple chocolate fudge and Vanilla Pecan Caramels II

Years ago when my son Matt was in eighth grade he had an english teacher that he had when he was in second grade that he absolutely adored and I did and still do. Her name is Mrs. Hall. I think she may be retired now. She was a great teacher. Her best quality as a teacher, in my opinion, was that you could tell that she really enjoyed her job. Still to this day I see her where I work at and she still asks me, "How is Matt?" 
Anyway, she brought into school for her students homemade caramels.  My son saved me one to try because he thought they were the best things on this planet and he was right they are! I asked her for the recipe and she was kind enough to give it to me. Let me tell you, I have made this recipe at least 50 times since then.  There are quite a few people in Jefferson that I have made this sweet addiction for.  Once you have made and eaten one these caramels you will never go back to store bought ones. I have even bought other homemade caramels and they don't even compare to this one.

Mrs. Hall's Caramels
2 cups white corn syrup
2 cups sugar
2 cups sweetened condensed milk (1 1/2 cans)
1 cup butter
pinch of salt
3/4 cup of chopped nuts
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1) Boil corn syrup, sugar and salt to 245-250 degrees with candy thermometer
    over medium heat.
2) Add sweetened condensed milk and butter slowly as boiling must not stop. 
    Stir until temperature reaches 236-241 degrees.
3) Once you reach this temperature take it off the heat and add 1teaspoon of vanilla and chopped nuts if desired.
4) Pour into a well buttered 9x13 pan. Let cool off to room temperature and then chill in the fridge for about an hour.
This recipe take about 20-30 minutes to make and about 2 hours of cooling time. I cut this into 48 very large pieces. Wrap with cut squares of waxed paper.
It is well worth the time and effort that is put into this recipe.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Day 4 of my Christmas baking: Triple chocolate fudge and Vanilla Pecan Caramels

This is another recipe that I have been using for many years that came from
It's a keeper.  The evaporated milk, sugar and butter is on the stove almost to a boil.
The marshmallows, vanilla, milk chocolate, semisweet chocolate and unsweetened baking chocolate is on the counter to be added next.
This is the finished product with chopped pecans sprinkled on top before the fudge sets. This fudge is very creamy. Not like anything you can buy. What you see here is about 5 pounds of fudge!

The tree decorated

 Here it is! Our family Christmas tree.
Scott and I, once again, decorated it by ourselves without the kids. Every year it saddens me a little to decorate the Christmas tree without the kids. But, they are all grown now. I remember when they were little, every year we would look over the ornaments and as we were hanging them on the tree the kids would discuss who's ornaments belonged to whom, where they came from or how old they were when they made the ornament.  When the tree was finished being decorated we would turn off all of the lights in the house and sit in awe in front of  our finished creation.

 Scott and I sitting in front of our finished creation.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Getting the Christmas tree

This is the perfect tree!

My husband and I

Prepping the tree

The Christmas tree lot with lit bulbs hanging
I've always wanted to go to a place that sells Christmas trees where there are lit light bulbs hanging up around the lot. In all of my 40 something years of life I have never been to one. Either my family have gone during the day to get a tree or we have gone to a tree farm to cut our own. I know, I know... it sounds silly. It just reminds of a scene in a movie where the character lives in a big city and goes to a vacant lot lit by light bulbs hanging around it. Well, this year my husband insisted that we go to one and we did tonight. Was it everything that I imagined? Well, it was quaint but, I have to admit, it was just like getting a Christmas anywhere else except that there were lit bulbs hanging around! No great shakes. I guess my imagination got the best of me there!
My husband and I had a great time picking out the most perfect tree ever and then dinner at Applebee's afterward.

Day 3 of my Christmas baking: Buckyeye delights

Final product...Buckeye Delights
Another recipe from that I thought looked very interesting. I usually make traditional buckeyes for Christmas because my husband requests themI'm not a big fan of them.  I don't see what the big deal is. But for him I make them. This recipe was easy enough to make with a Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix to start with. The cookie as a whole is very rich with the chocolate ganache on top but pretty good. Something different and it is pretty. I think I over baked the cookie base so I felt mine were a little dry. My husband had one...said to me, "wow, these are rich!" So, I think I'm going to have to break down and make the traditional buckeyes for, now on my list for tomorrows baking: triple chocolate fudge, caramels AND buckeyes.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Day 3 of my Christmas baking: Apricot pinwheels

Okay, so I started making the pinwheel shapes and I just thought the heck with this its just too much work just for the pinwheel shape. So I just went back to what I normally do and that is to wrap the dough like a blanket over the apricot filling. It went by much faster.It all tastes the same, right?  ( I'm trying to justify my reasoning here)
Here is the final product.They still turned out just as delicious!

Day 3 of my Christmas baking: Pecan tarts

It has been a busy weekend with finalizing my Christmas shopping and battling this darn cold that I have. But, none the less, it was a great weekend!

To finish off my plans for this weekend I am baking pecan tarts from and apricot pinwheels. I'm trying the recipe for apricot pinwheels for the first time from The pecan tarts recipe is a great recipe. I have been baking these every year for at least 8 years now.

Here are the pecan tarts! I'm pleased with them. The crust is flaky, buttery and cream cheesey. Bite into one and the center is flowing with a pecan filling. Topped with a maraschino cherry half. YUMMY!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Day 2 of my Christmas baking: Mrs. Bell's Cookies Part II

The final product: Mrs. Bell's cookies

Oh my goodness are these cookies are a lot of work to make! But, they are very much worth it. I've already ate oh, maybe 6-8 of these. 
I asked my neighbor Fran today ( the lady that gave me the recipe ) who is Mrs. Bell? Fran told me that her sister used to be a hair dresser and Mrs. Bell was an older lady that used to get her hair done at where Fran's sister used to work. Fran's sister and Mrs. Bell used to swap recipes and that is how Fran acquired the recipe. Mrs. Bell has since passed away. 
I also asked Fran how long has she had the recipe( remember Fran is 94 years old) and she said to me, "Oh, many years now." So, who knows where Mrs.Bell got this recipe from, if she created it herself, or if was passed down from her family or someone else.  I will definitely keep this recipe and only make it at Christmas time and pass the recipe down to my kids because it is such a special little cookie with a story.....

Day 2 of my Christmas baking: Mrs. Bell's Cookies

Across the street from my house is the sweetest lady you'd ever meet. Her name is Fran and she is 94 years old! You would never in a million years guess her to be that age. She still drives, she keeps the cleanest house I have ever seen, and she and her 80 something year old sister go everywhere together. She has been a mother and homemaker her entire life. She has never worked a day outside of her home. I admire and respect that about her. In my opinion, motherhood is the most important job on this planet. What would this world be like without mothers like her.
Anyway, she is a wonderful cook. The more I get to know her (and sample some of her delicious baked goods) the more I realize that I can learn a lot from her. Last Christmas she made these out of this world little pastry cookies that I have never seen of or tasted before. I couldn't get enough of them! To describe them I would say that they are little flaky bites, with a date and nut filling, with a sprinkle of powdered sugar on top. I could of seriously ate a dozen of them at one sitting!
I asked Fran for the recipe and she so graciously gave it to me. As far as how old is this recipe, I'm going to have to ask her. And where did it come from, I don't know, I will ask her that too. So, today I am excited about attempting to make these for the first time.
This is exactly how Fran wrote down the recipe for me:

Mrs. Bell's Cookies

1 lb. oleo
5 cups flour
5 tablespoons sugar
Mix like dough for pie


1 teaspoon vanilla
4 egg yolks
8 tablespoons sour cream

Make filling:

1 lb. dates chopped
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup nuts
1 1/2 cups milk
Cook 4 mins. and cool

Bake at 350 degrees - 20 minutes
Roll into powdered sugar

In a few hours I will be posting, what I hope to be, pictures of just as  delicious of a cookie that Fran made.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas in downtown Jefferson, Ohio

 Jefferson, is a quaint, cozy little town. My family and I have lived here since 1989! 
Located in Ashtabula County, the largest county in Ohio.

This picture was taken in the center of town at the Gazebo. 
 Across the street from the gazebo is the Ashtabula County Courthouse. What appears to look like snow is RAIN! It has rained here for the last two days.
 Another view of our gazebo. I really like this picture.
 Welcome to Jefferson, Ohio!
 Trust me when I say that when you step through these doors for a hair cut it really feels like you stepped back in time. I used to take my son there to get his hair cut. Sure seems like so many years ago.
The first business to the left is Extreme Hair. The owner Amy, does a great job! The business on the far left; Deli In The Rye has some of the best food around. The food there is so thoughtfully prepared and delicious. I especially love the warm bread pudding with rum sauce.

 In this picture you can't really see the message on the train but the message says Merry Christmas. I love the fact that it says that instead of Happy Holidays.

Jefferson Diner... this is another business in town that when you walk in, it feels like you're in a different era. My husband and I go here for what we call the gravy boat. On the menu it is the open faced sliced turkey with mashed potatoes and gravy. But, the way we order it is with french fries instead of mashed potatoes and gravy over the whole thing! I know, it's so bad for you. But, oh sooo goood.
 This is a side view of the court house and our main street.
 I had a neighbor, her name was Dorothy, she turned 98 years old just before she moved to live with her daughter. Dorothy used to tell my husband and I stories about  how her father helped build this church. Every time I walk by this church I think about Dorothy. She passed away at the age of 101 a few years ago.

Day 1 of my Christmas baking: Peppermint Snowballs

This recipe came from an Gold Medal recipe booklet. I tore the page out that has this recipe in it years ago.

1/2 cup crushed peppermint candies
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup butter softened
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
2 1/4 cup Gold Medal flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 325 degrees.
Mix 1/4 cup of crushed candy and 1/4 cup of powdered sugar. This will be used to roll the cookies into when they come out of the oven.
Beat butter, 1/3 cup of powdered sugar, vanilla and the rest of the crushed peppermint candies. (1/4 cup)
Then mix in the flour and the salt.
Roll teaspoonfuls into 1 inch balls, place about 1 inch apart on cookie sheet and then bake for about 12-14 minutes.
When done baking, roll into powdered sugar mixture and let cool on rack. Wait about 10 minutes and reroll cookies in sugar mixture.

Ready to roll the baked cookies into the powdered sugar and peppermint candy mixture.
If you like peppermint it's a sure guarantee that you will like these.

I am done baking for today! It is beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!

Day 1 of my Christmas baking: Thumbprint Cookies with cherry filling center

Finished product: Thumbprint Cookies
 I've got my Burl Ives Have A Holly Jolly Christmas cd playing on my stereo to get my Christmas energy going and it's working!

All of my assembled ingredients

Mixing the butter, shortening, brown sugar, egg yolk and vanilla

My little assembly line...

My favorite part of making thumbprints: the thumbprint

Now into the oven for about 10 minutes
 My Mother used to make thumbprint cookies every year for Christmas. She would use red cherry jelly and green mint jelly for the center. This year I am using cherry filling. I've made these every year since I was 17 years old because it was part of her Christmas cookie tradition. I use the same recipe that she used from Instead of almonds I use walnuts. Oh, they really are scrumptious cookies, not too sweet, just right. Great with a cup of coffee. ( but what isn't great with a cup of coffee though!)