Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy New Year!

Section of multicolored map (23' x 30') at Stanley Park
made of New York Slate
It was so pleasant this Christmas with the lack of white powder on our lawns! We had way too much snow in October!  At this time last year we in the northeast were digging our way out of the Nor'easter that arrived the day after Christmas.  It fell with a frenzy causing trying travel plans for many.  The MetroNorth schedule to NYC changed drastically during that period.  Months later a tornado, a microburst, an earthquake, a hurricane and then the infamous Halloween Nor'easter all made their appearances during the year - some in small and others in very large ways - some at and some very close to home.

Fortunately in the 'Meadow, the tree debris from our Halloween surprise has been collected, chipped and removed!  Other towns and cities are still recovering from the June 1 tornado.

During the winter months I always anticipate visiting the beautiful gardens at Stanley Park in Westfield, MA.  Stanley Park is about 35 minutes from my home.  This gem in Western MA is open from May to November and is a gorgeous area to visit and to collect gardening ideas and tips for the home landscaper.  The slate map above is located in front of the Carillon Tower.  The Covered Bridge and the Rose Garden are also always fave spots to visit.  

Taking a peek at the Rose Garden
The colors and the varieties of annuals blend together!   
With less trees in our backyard there will be more sun this coming year.  Perhaps an Herb Garden will have a spot!  It's time to start planning!

Happy New Year!!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Yummy Yogurt

Today, many times when I walked past our decorated Christmas Tree and admired the ornaments, memories floated ... There are so many treasured pieces that grace our tree.  Christmas' past - even from my childhood - are represented. Rudolph still has a "nose so bright" even though he is a tad faded after a few decades. It cannot be that long, can it? Ah, yes it is!  :) 

The nostalgia did not last long.  There was Yummy Yogurt to prep.  With all of the hubbub of getting ready for the holidays, the healthy staple foods that we enjoy daily need to be located quickly when the fridge door is opened for the next few days. 

Yogurt is a food my fam has always devoured.  Need that calcium!  Today my two Donvier Yogurt Makers quietly did their thing.  The 16 six ounce containers will last a few days.  :)  The 16th container will be saved as the culture, so the next new batch can be made - next week. 

I will be settling in to finish one last project using my Janome (sewing machine).

This weekend will be filled with FUN!  

Peace to all! 
Merry Christmas!


Monday, December 19, 2011

~White Chocolate Craisin Oaties~

Waiting for the White Chocolate Morsels...
It was deja vu!  Our home felt a tad chilly when we awoke this AM and my first thought was recalling where I'd stored the remaining packets of Taster's Choice instant coffee.  After our electricity was restored following the Halloween Nor'easter just weeks ago, there were 5 packets left.  Now, I need my hot coffee in the AM.  Our gas stove allowed me that necessity then and I definitely wanted it again - our indoors thermometer read 55°F.

A few hours later, the electricity was once again restored and I'm now back to preparing for the fun weekend ahead.  That includes baking a batch of White Chocolate Craisin Oaties!  I'll use my recipe for Craisin Raisin Oaties (printable recipe) with a couple changes.  The added Nutmeg - oh yes, yummy!

  1. Add 1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg.
  2. Omit Raisins.
  3. Use 3/4 Cup Craisins (dried cranberries).
  4. Add in 6 ounces of White Chocolate Morsels (Nestle's)
  5. Baking Time was 13 minutes.
White Chocolate Craisin Oaties are so good!  This weekend I baked a batch to bring to our neighbors' gathering.  During the baking process, there was definite "quality control" testing going on.  After all, one cannot offer a dessert that does not meet the "absolutely yummy I want another" standard.  :)  It was sure difficult to eat only two while baking! 

Now, another batch will be baked for my family to...


Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Guest Towels

Who would guess that the new addition to my fabric scrap stash would come in handy so quickly?  It was the beginning of another quick and easy Christmas project.  The colorful fabric strips on my new bright Christmas Guest Towels is leftover fabric from my current project.  Two years ago I wanted Thanksgiving themed Guest Towels, but while searching in stores I never found any that suited my fancy.  So, I purchased colored towels and made them to order.  It worked so well!  The towels have endured many washings and remain a vibrant color.  While they were hanging in our bathroom this November it reminded me that another holiday was approaching and ideas started to flow - Christmas Guest Towels.

Thanksgiving Guest Towels
The chosen colors of the newly decorated hand towels go well with the fabric design and also with the colors in our bathroom.  A BIG + is that they were very simple to make.  After purchasing (via a good sale) 2 new towels I was ready to start. 

A strip of fabric was cut to fit into towel's recessed area near the bottom edge.  The strip is 2" longer than the towel's width.  That way I have an extra 1" on each side to play with when doing the finishing work and sewing. 

The height of the desired strip is measured 1/2" larger than needed,  so both the top and the bottom may be turned in 1/4" and pressed.  The raw edges on each side of the strip are turned in also, pressed and then turned in again and sewn in place. 

When sewing strip in place:  I like to wrap a very small portion of the colorful strip around the backside of the towel when attaching, so I allow for an extra 1/2" on each side.  Pin the strip onto the plain portion of the towel's front and sew in place.  Really easy!

Pinning strip in place.
These Guest Towels also make quick, small and festive Christmas gifts!  I am adding this post to my Threads with Taste Page (located below my header) above.
Happy Sewing!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

CranOrange Coffee Cake

CranOrange Coffee Cake (cooling)
There is only one way that my family enjoys Ocean Spray Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce - and that's in CranOrange Coffee Cake!  Enjoying a slice of this moisty colorful cake after dinner on Christmas Day has become a tradition.  During the holiday season it can be baked early on, cooled, wrapped in foil and placed in the freezer.  Then, the day before serving, this cake (that is baked in a Bundt or Tube Pan) is defrosted and an Almond flavored icing drizzled over the top.  Yum!   

Years ago, I used Ocean Spray CranOrange Relish when preparing this tasty dessert.  Since I no longer can locate this item in grocery stores, the Whole Berry Sauce combined with 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of Orange Extract works very well.
Ready for the oven
I try to use less Whole Eggs when baking, so rather than use 2 Whole Eggs, I use 1 Whole Egg + 2 Egg Whites in the batter.  1 Whole Egg = 2 Egg Whites when baking.  Fat Free Sour Cream is also an ingredient.  The recipe for our favorite cake is below. 

CranOrange Coffee Cake  printable Recipe Card

Oven: 350°F

Time: Bake 55 Minutes or until cake tester or toothpick comes out clean.

1 Stick (8 Tablespoons) Unsalted Margarine/Butter, softened
1 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 Egg + 2 Egg Whites (or 2 Whole Eggs)
2 Cups Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Fat Free Sour Cream
1 teaspoon Almond Extract
8 ounces Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce Plus
1 and 1/2 teaspoons Orange Extract

OR 1 container CranOrange Relish


  1. Spray 9" or 10" Bundt Pan or Tube Pan with PAM & flour.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  3. Using mixer, Cream Margarine/Butter with Sugar.
  4. Add 1 Whole Egg + 2 Egg Whites (or 2 Whole Eggs) and blend well.
  5. Add dry ingredients alternating with Sour Cream.  End with the dry ingredients.
  6. Add Almond Extract.
  7. Combine 8 ounces Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce with 1 and 1/2 teaspoons Orange Extract in separate bowl (if using).
  8. Place 1/2 of batter in Bundt Pan, spread evenly.
  9. Top with 1/2 of Sauce, spread.
  10. Carefully add remaining batter, spread.
  11. Follow with remaining Sauce, spread.
  12. Bake at 350°F for 55 Minutes or until cake tester or toothpick comes out clean.
  13. Cool on wire rack for 5 Minutes.
  14. Remove cake from pan and cool.
  15. After cooling, wrap in foil and freeze until needed.
The day before CranOrange Coffee Cake will be served, defrost and drizzle with Topping.

Topping:  Blend 3/4 Cup Confectioner's Sugar, 2 Tablespoons Water + 1/2 teaspoon Almond Extract until smooth. 

Every year we enjoy this delicious CranOrange Coffee Cake with an Almond Icing!  And...a small scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side!  The beginning of this week my "to do' list includes baking and freezing our Christmas cake.

Does your family enjoy a special cake during the holidays? 


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Envelope Back Throw Pillows

The idea was easy enough to complete.  The 2 throw pillows on one of our sofas downstairs needed to be replaced.  Sure, a quick trip to a local store (with a coupon) would have completed the project.  However, I do have a stash of fabric and also a Janome sewing machine that has allowed me to "whip up" some mighty fine items.  :)  After purchasing my Janome a few years ago, I checked out their website and found directions for Throw Pillow with Envelope Back.  I had bookmarked the directions for another day.

That day had come!  The directions were easy to follow.  Newspaper, pencil, yardstick and scissors in hand, I made my pattern.  The fabric was in my scrap stash, mostly leftover from our bathroom curtains.

The colors - tan + navy blue would work well with our sofa.  The only issue was the needed amount and my scrap fabric was not continuous.  Patchwork designs are so pretty, so that settled it.  The envelope pillows were made and the old pillows stuffed inside.

Now, I'm ready to tackle the project of making the pillow shams to match our new quilt.  The fabric, grosgrain ribbon and thread have already been purchased.  That was a great practice run!  Maybe, after the holidays!

These Throw Pillows make a quick and easy gift just in time for the holidays!


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

Sour Cream Sugar Cookies
Do you have a favorite cookie that you bake every year for a special holiday?  The variety of cookie that beckons a sampling as soon as the first dozen cookies are removed from the cookie sheet and are cool enough to handle.  I sure do!  For me it's Sour Cream Sugar Cookies!  For over 30 years I've baked these rolled and cut out scrumptious treats (containing a hint of Nutmeg) in early December.  They freeze so well that they are stored in our freezer and are ready for Christmas week.  Last year I shared this recipe and it's the perfect time for me to do so again.

These soft, light, rolled out delicious cookies are fun to make not only because cookie cutters and colored sugars are used, but the two step or overnight process means the dough is prepared one day and refrigerated.  On the second day the rolling pin, pastry sheet and cookie cutters are used.  So fun to bake with your children or grandchildren!  There are also other times during the year when my cookie cutters and my red/white rolling pin are located and used.  However, before Christmas they are always used!

Sour Cream Sugar Cookies  printable recipe card

Oven:  375°F
Yield:  About 5 dozen, depending on size

4 Cups Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
1 Cup unsalted Butter, softened
1 and 1/2 Cups Sugar
1 Egg
1/2 Cup Sour Cream (can be Fat Free)
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Colored Sugars for Decorating


Day 1-
  1. In large bowl with electric mixer beat Butter and Sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. Add Egg, beat.
  3. Add in Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Salt and Nutmeg.
  4. While beating on Low, slowly add Flour, 1 Cup at a time.
  5. Add in Vanilla and Sour Cream.  Beat on Medium until well combined.  Dough will be stiff.
  6. Remove dough from bowl and place on plastic wrap, wrap dough.
  7. Place wrapped dough on aluminum foil and wrap well.
  8. Refrigerate overnight.
Day 2-

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Unwrap dough and cut into four parts.
  3. On well floured surface, roll dough to 1/4" thickness.  Use cookie cutters.
  4. Place cookies on pan/sheet 1" apart.  (Maybe 12 cookies to a sheet.)
  5. Sprinkle with colored sugars.
  6. Bake 10 - 11 Minutes.  Bottom of cookies will be a light golden brown.
  7. Remove with spatula to wire cooling racks.
  8. When cool store in airtight containers.
**These cookies also freeze very well.

**For my family, any leftover dough is used to make "Initial" cookies.  Ropes are made from the leftover dough.  The first letter of each family member's name is shaped and placed on the cookie sheet.  Each letter is 2"-3".  For some reason these are eaten last, by the individual's choice.  Maybe because it will be the last one saved out!  :)

Now, it's time for me to sit in front of my Janome and finish my sewing project!

Do you have a favorite holiday cookie?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

~Tasty Treats~

Craisins, Raisins, Cinnamon, Nutmeg & Brown Sugar added!
Thanksgiving was GREAT!  The long weekend was packed with chatting it up with the family!  As usual, earlier, there were the traditional foods to prepare, but this year a tad little less time for baking.  So glad that I had planned to bake Craisin Raisin Apple Crisp after the Butternut Squash Custard Pie came out of the oven.  There are times when an easy tasty dessert made with sliced fruit tastes just absolutely delicious!  It was one of those times!  As you know, I m not much into purchasing baked goods and I try to keep the sugar to flour ratio low when baking.  

In Apple Crisp no pie crust needs to be rolled out.  Raisins & Craisins are mixed in with the apples before baking.  The oat topping is spread over the top of the thinly sliced apples.  It's easy to prepare and it tastes wonderful!  We all agreed, the NUTMEG added into the crumb mixture tasted divine!  My younger son has put in his request for this dessert the next time he stops in.

Needs a Small Scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream!
Now, after baking the Butternut Squash Custard Pie, there was extra unbaked pie crust.  Tasty Treats are the anticipated dessert whenever I roll out pie crust.  After making these for so many years, they have become the Part 2 when baking a pie.  Any remaining extra dough is formed into a ball and rolled out.  Brown Sugar, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Craisins & Raisins are scattered over the top of the dough.  Then, starting at one end, the dough is rolled into a log and lightly pressed.  Next, cut the log into slices.  Onto a foil lined baking sheet the slices are placed - a 350° F oven for about 20-22 Minutes or until slightly browned.

Tasty Treats - Another Tradition
The Tasty Treats are a wonderful way to use leftover dough.  And such a treat - little rolls of fruit and flaky baked dough.  It's always part of baking a pie.  It sure does not taste like a "leftover"!  Do you also bake these?  What does your family call them?

Thanksgiving weekend was FUN and our little toddler grandson kept us moving!  :)

We enjoyed the holiday weekend!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Turkey a la King

The Guest Towels are Ready!
Every year just before Thanksgiving when Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce is a featured special at my grocery store I purchase both the jellied and the whole berry sauces.  There are some Thanksgiving Day traditions that I savor from my own childhood.  One tradition is placing a tangy slice of this cold jellied sauce next to steaming turkey slices and mashed potatoes (that are topped with yummy gravy) on my dinner plate.  Oh, definitely, mashed Butternut Squash is also present.  That was also a tradition of my DH's family.  Yes, I could prep the whole berry sauce earlier during Thanksgiving week and we could enjoy that, but it would not be the same as both of our childhood memories.  This tradition has continued.  Our sons have always kept a watch for the can of  Cranberry Sauce while grazing in the fridge before dinner. 

This treat is enjoyed with our Thanksgiving Day Dinner, enjoyed the next day with Hot Turkey Sandwiches and then enjoyed once again with Turkey a la King that is served over toasted Oatmeal Bread.

There is always enough roasted turkey remaining for that last meal.  Turkey a la King is delicious and it's very easy to prepare.

Turkey a la King
Serves 2 - 3 Adults

1/4 Cup Margarine/Butter (I use unsalted.)
1/3 Cup Flour
1 Cup Chicken/Turkey Broth (I use College Inn Light & Fat Free Chicken Broth.)
1 Cup Milk
1 Cup (cooked) Turkey chunks, cut up, more if desired
2 Cups Cooked Carrots &/or Peas combined

Toasted Bread

  1. Melt Margarine/Butter in skillet.
  2. Remove skillet from Medium heat and slowly stir in Flour.
  3. Return to heat and slowly add in Chicken Broth & Milk while slowly stirring constantly.
  4. Continue stirring over heat until sauce is thick and bubbly.
  5. Add Turkey chunks.
  6. Add in cooked vegetables.   
  7. Stir and heat mixture for 1 - 2 Minutes.
  8. Serve over toasted Bread.
This meal always uses the remaining pieces of roasted Turkey and we always remember the Cranberry Sauce!

Maybe there will be a few slices of Cranberry Bread (click on name) to enjoy later for dessert.  In New England we do like Cranberry Bread.  :)  Two of these breads filled with fresh chopped cranberries are on my "to bake" list for tomorrow along with Butternut Squash Custard Pie (click on name).   

Enjoy the holiday with your family & friends.  We have much to be thankful for and it is always good to appreciate what we have.

Have a Wonderful Thanksgiving!!!


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

~Sausage Soup~

Sausage Soup Simmering - Mmm!
This afternoon a steady rain is falling.  It's the perfect kind of day to enjoy a large bowl of hot hearty colorful soup filled with veggies at dinner.  Tonight, it's Sausage Soup for us.  Two days ago my large Revereware covered pot was put to use.  A batch of this delicious soup simmered along.  We sure did enjoy it for dinner that evening!  After our evening meal and the soup had cooled four labelled portions were placed in Ziploc Freezer containers and two portions were saved to enjoy again a bit later in the week. 

It's just the best to have a hearty soup ready to defrost waiting in the freezer!  Yes, Bertucci's does offer this soup on its menu, but I find their soup consists mostly of broth.  Nothing beats a hearty Sausage Soup.  And the cook controls the salt content!

Now, whenever I make this, I add about 12 oz. of defrosted Green Beans.  Green Beans are a fave in my fam, so I add them in whenever and in whatever meal I can.

Sausage Soup


1 lb. Italian Sweet Sausage - removed from casings
4 cans (14.5 oz. each) College Inn Light & Fat Free Chicken Broth
1 can (14 - 20 oz.) Diced or Whole Tomatoes, drained
1 box chopped frozen Spinach, thawed
1 Cup White Rice, uncooked
1 lb. Baby Carrots (rinsed)
1/4 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
1 pkg. (10 - 14 oz.) defrosted Green Beans - optional

  1. Remove Sausage from casings and brown in skillet.
  2. Break Sausage into pieces while it is browning.
  3. Place all remaining ingredients into large pot or Dutch Oven.
  4. Add browned Sausage.
  5. Bring all ingredients to a simmer.
  6. Simmer about 45-60 minutes until Rice has cooked.
*Extra portions can be placed in the fridge or stored in the freezer.  This makes one delicious meal on a very busy evening.  It's always a welcome sight to find a container in my freezer. 

*When reheating, a 14.5 oz. can of College Inn Light & Fat Free Chicken Broth is added to the defrosted contents while the soup reheats on my stove.  The Rice has absorbed the liquid.

*Update: Our neighborhood is lookin' good after this welcome sight yesterday!

Thank you, FEMA!
Sausage Soup makes a very tasty meal on a very busy night, like tonight!  

Do you also Enjoy it?!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Butternut Squash Bread

Butternut Squash Breads Cooling
One of my Thanksgiving traditions is baking Butternut Squash Bread.  In November while I am prepping the delicious orange Butternut Squash to store in our large freezer, I save 2 cups of the mashed veggie to bake 2 breads for my fam to enjoy during the Thanksgiving Day weekend.  Within 2  days after "saving" the orange veggie, I bake 2 breads.  After they are cooled, they are wrapped in Heavy Duty Reynolds Wrap, labelled & stored in our freezer. 

This is a baking tidbit that my sister & I learned from our mom.  She did not use canned pumpkin nor steamed pumpkin, she always liked the flavor of Butternut Squash for this quick bread.  Now, the tradition lives on.  Yes, canned pumpkin can be substituted. 

In my usual reduce the cholesterol content while baking, I use 6 Egg Whites and 1 Whole Egg for the 2 breads that this recipe yields.  I also now use Olive Oil for baking & sauteing rather than Vegetable Oil.

My recipe card for Butternut Squash Bread is available for this delicious moisty bread by clicking here and printing.  This recipe yields 2 breads.  It freezes very well! 

This recipe can be cut in half to bake 1 bread.  *If baking 1 bread, use 1 Whole Egg + 2 Egg Whites or 2 Whole Eggs.

This week while I am prepping the Butternuts, I will also do a little baking for the upcoming holiday.  My family has much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving!


Thursday, November 10, 2011

~Butternut Squash~

Last Year's Butternut Squash Ready for Freezer
Oh, it was not an easy find the end of September.  Butternut Squash!  The orange colored tasty fall vegetable had a difficult growing season in some areas of Western MA this summer.  The heavy rains at the end of summer in my area were not beneficial to this vegetable.  Usually, I purchase a large quantity at Meadowbrook Farm in East Longmeadow, but it was not in the cards this year. 

So, my DH & I took a "road trip" up to Atkins Farms in Amherst.  Growing up in Amherst I remember when this venue was a small roadside stand.  Now, customers from that area shop year round in Atkins' large market in addition to having the opportunity to pick apples in designated orchards during the autumn harvest season. 

Our purchased stash of Butternuts from Atkins has been stored in our garage.  This fall has been hectic and I just never did get "round tuit" and prep them for our freezer.  Well Thank Goodness For That!  Any food in our fridge and large freezer was tossed during our long lived power outage.  Sitting on our garage floor are the untouched beauties that we purchased about 1 month ago.  Oh, yes!

As we are catching up on things, the Butternut Squash is on the top of the list!

Prepping Butternut Squash to Freeze

I usually prep 6 Butternut Squash at once. First, the Butternuts are rinsed/cleaned in cold water.  Then, carefully the skin is removed with the aid of my cutting board and a sharp knife.  Cut off & toss the stem and rounded top.  Then, the long top portion is cut into slices that are circles, and the skin cut off.  After removing the seeds, I do not save them, but do save as much of the orange veggie as possible in the surrounding area.  2" chunks of orange squash are placed in two large pots on my stove top.  (I use my 2 Dutch Ovens.)
Cut Chunks
After adding cold water (to reach up about 2" in the pots), the heat is turned up to High.  After a Boil is reached, lower the heat and simmer about 13 - 15 minutes, until pieces can be pierced with a fork.  During the cooking minutes, carefully stir the Squash pieces in the pot, so they soften equally.   After draining the squash using a colander, return the chunks to the large pots and mash.

Mashed Butternut
I pack about 2 Cups of mashed Squash in Ziploc Freezer BagsAfter labeling, store in freezer.  Whenever desired for dinner a bag is unwrapped and the frozen chunk of squash is placed in a Corning Ware container with a lid.  Reheat in the microwave.

There is no need to add any sugar nor butter/margarine.  This is a very tasty veggie and stands quite well on its own!

There will be Butternut Squash on our Thanksgiving Dinner table served in a number of recipes.  Soon, Ziploc Freezer bags will be located in our freezer containing this very delicious orange colored family favorite veggie.  Life is good!

Do you like the taste of Butternut Squash also?

We will enjoy!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

"Pushing Back Nature"

So much has been accomplished this week.  And ... it's only Wednesday!  Today, as we look out our windows the green grass has never looked better.  My DH has finished using the chain saw and "pushing back nature".  As is customary in autumn, leaves are floating downward.  This fall they are falling from trees that have missing branches.  Today my DH finished the first raking of our yard.   

Our fridge is being replenished.  Much to my happy surprise my grocery store, Big Y, carries frozen green pepper pieces - ready to use.  A bag of frozen blueberries was also in our grocery cart.  I envision Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes this weekend.  There will be pancakes to add to our freezer! 

Electricity and Internet is back!  Things are looking good!

We will enjoy!


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Power is BACK!!!!!!

View from Kitchen Window a Week Ago
WooHoo!!! Now my DH and I know how dependent we are on electricity! The nor'easter slammed into Western MA and our power was out for 6 days. We are thankful for the hard working men/women from all over our country who are helping our state. We have power back on our street!


11/8 - Update:  Yesterday AM (11/7) our Internet + t.v. service was restored!  My son and his gf welcomed us back to the 21st century and to the internet!

Hubby at Work!

The Debris Pile Gets Taller

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Halloween Sherbet Punch

Soon it will be the weekend when reaching into a bowl of witches' eyes (peeled grapes) and another bowl containing the guts (stirred cold slimy gelatin) is FUN!!!  It's also the time to quench your goblins thirst with Halloween Sherbet Punch!

For so many years this beverage has been a fave in my fam.  There is not too much preparation going on here.  Find your Punch Bowl!  Remember to purchase the 7-Up Soda and the Sherbet.  Trying to cut a few calories, I use Diet 7-Up.  For the Halloween Brew, Orange Sherbet is the flavor and the color of choice.

Halloween Sherbet Punch

For each 1 Quart of Orange Sherbet
Use 2 Bottles Diet 7-Up (refrigerated)

  1. In a large punch bowl place 1 Quart Sherbet.
  2. Pour 2 bottles 7-Up Soda in punch bowl, pouring some over Sherbet.
  3. Stir a little to mix.  Results in frothy, softened Sherbet.
  4. Ladle into cups adding some of the Sherbet.
  5. Replenish the 7-Up + Sherbet , as needed.
It's time to add 7-Up and Orange Sherbet to your grocery list!


Friday, October 14, 2011

~Craisin Raisin Oaties~

Craisin Raisin Oaties
Yes, four had been taken out of the orange cookie canister and stored in a small Ziploc Freezer bag, then placed in my freezer!  WooHoo! 
On Monday the outside temperature on our thermometer read 83°F and it is October!  We do enjoy Indian Summer here in Western MA, but who would have guessed that it would feel like a day in the mid summer?  Who would also guess that I would be baking Craisin Raisin Oaties on a very warm day?  Well, I made the commitment to bring refreshments to a Docent Class I was attending on Tuesday and  a promise is a promise. 

From the "get go" I knew that old fashioned oats would be used when I was baking the goodies.  Craisin Raisin Oaties definitely rank as one of the three fave cookies in my fam.  While growing up, my mom would bake them, but she did not include the Craisins.  They were not an ingredient we were accustomed to, even though I did live in MA.  Driving back from Boston after a Boston College Football game one Saturday many years ago, we stopped at a Rest Area on the Mass Pike.  One of the snacks offered in the "goodies" case was Oatmeal Cookies containing both Raisins and Craisins.  What a combo!  From that day I always added both whenever I baked Oatmeal cookies.

Usually when I bake these yummy nutritious cookies, I make a double batch.  They freeze very well when stored in Ziploc Freezer bags, so the small amount of extra time and effort is totally worth it.  However, the heat of the day on Monday called for only one batch to be baked.  So glad that I stored those four cookies in the freezer!  :)  Yummy!

Craisin Raisin Oaties

Oven :  350°F
Yield:  About 3 and 1/2 Dozen


1 Cup (2 sticks) Butter/Margarine, softened
1 Cup Brownulated Sugar (or Brown Sugar)
1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
2 Eggs (OR 1 Egg + 2 Egg Whites)
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon Salt (optional) - I do not use any Salt.
1 and 1/2 Cups Flour
3 Cups Quaker Oats (Old Fashioned, uncooked)
1/2 Cup Craisins (dried Cranberries)
1/2 Cup Raisins

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In large mixing bowl, beat Butter/Margarine with Sugars until creamy.
  3. Add Eggs, (Egg Whites) & Vanilla Extract.  Beat well.
  4. Add Baking Soda, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, optional Salt & Flour.  Mix well.
  5. With large spoon or spatula, stir in Oats. 
  6. Add Craisins & Raisins.  Stir well.
  7. Place 12 rounded Tablespoons of batter on ungreased cookie sheet.
  8. Bake 10 - 12 Minutes until golden brown. 
  9. After removing from oven, cool cookies in pan about 2 minutes before removing cookies from pan and placing on wire rack to cool.
  10. Cool & Enjoy!
The infamous four cookies found in my freezer were defrosted last night.  Using two cookies and a small amount of Vanilla ice cream the Craisin Raisin Oatie Ice Cream Sandwich tasted scrumptious!


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Craisin Raisin Apple Crisp

Craisin Raisin Apple Crisp
It's Apple Season in New England!  Oh Yes!  Every autumn baking the first Apple Crisp using fresh, local Cortland apples tastes so good!  It's filled with Craisins, Raisins, Old Fashioned Oats & slices of Cortland apples (a hybrid of a Ben Davis + a McIntosh).  When these crispy Cortland apples are cut, they do not turn a brownish color quickly.  This characteristic also makes Cortland apple slices a great addition to a salad. 

However, when I purchased the bag last week, salad was not on my mind.  It was Apple Crisp!  This is a wonderful dessert - Yum.  It tastes very similar to an apple pie, but there is no crust to roll out.  The baked apples are covered with a delicious topping of old fashioned Oats, Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Butter/Margarine. 

In Produce Aisles of grocery stores I've noticed a "mix" for the topping sold in boxes.  Butter/Margarine is added to the dry ingredients.  A 1 lb. canister of Oats, a small bag of Flour, along with the spices always come in handy in a kitchen, so I always view this "premeasured topping mix" as a waste of $$.

Quaker is my brand of old fashioned Oats.  I must admit that once the fall season begins I use oats in many foods, so Costco is my "go to" place for oats.  That large box really is not that big.  :)

Craisin Raisin Apple Crisp is a dessert that my fam always enjoys.  In the spring I use a combination of Empire and of Granny Smith apples.  The photo above shows our dessert one evening before a small scoop of vanilla ice cream was added on top.     

Apple Crisp 
       click for printable recipe card

Oven Temperature:  375°F
Time:  45 - 50 Minutes

6 - 7 peeled sliced large apples
3/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup Flour
1/2 Cup Old Fashioned Oats
3/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/3 Cup + 1 Tablespoon softened Butter or Margarine
1/4 Cup Craisins &/or Raisins - I use both!


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Spray PAM in 8" x 8" glass pan.
  3. Place sliced apples in pan.
  4. Sprinkle in Craisins & Raisins.
  5. Thoroughly mix remaining ingredients together in small bowl.
  6. Sprinkle over apples.
  7. Bake 45 Minutes or until apples are tender. 
  8. Serve warm or chilled with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream.
  9. When cool, cover & refrigerate any leftovers.
Today, I was in the Big Y purchasing groceries.  The first bag of Cortland apples just disappeared, so another bag was placed in our grocery cart along with a half gallon of Apple Cider.

Have a wonderful holiday weekend!!!


Monday, September 26, 2011

Where is...

... that 5 lb. bag of all purpose Flour that's always waiting in the wings in my pantry???  A 5 lb. bag of King Arthur Unbleached Flour was the only flour to be found.  That was totally surprising to me!  My plan for breakfast Friday AM was Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes and everything was good to go.  Well, maybe with the exception of locating flour.  We've had an HHH summer and I have not heated the oven too often, so my recollection of my flour quantity is a bit hazy.  After staring into my empty flour canister, I usually just walk down the hall to my pantry and the needed ingredient is located.  I always purchase an extra when on special.

Not on Friday.  One makes due with what one has, so the King Arthur bag was opened.  I learned that King Arthur Unbleached Flour makes some mighty tasty pancakes!  I will be using this again.  Could not even taste a difference.  WooHoo!

So the day continued along on a very bright note!  In the afternoon my other plan was to use my West Bend Slow CookerChicken Florentine a la Slow Cooker would be bubbling along on my counter top.  Once again, the pantry door was opened.  No Healthy Request Cream of Mushroom Soup to be found!   There always is a Plan B in my kitchen.  Using 12 oz. of Light & Fat Free College Inn Chicken Broth along with 3 Tablespoons of All Purpose Flour as a substitute for the condensed soup, my West Bend bubbled along as planned.  The Chicken Florentine tasted soo good!

***First the Flour was combined with about 4 oz. of the broth before adding in the remaining amount of broth. 

You might be wondering just how 3 Tablespoons of all purpose flour suddenly appeared.  Years ago I took a suggestion from my younger son:  Fill a 2 Cup container with all purpose flour, so whenever a small amount of flour is needed, the heavier canister does not need to be taken down from the shelf in my cabinet.  From the day he made that suggestion, I heeded it.  I find that my sons have wonderful ideas very often!   

I was 2 for 2 on Friday!  Now that made my day!  I also have two more tips to add to the "Thoughtful Tips" page located at the top of my blog.  WooHoo!